Then he turned away and puked again.
“My insides just got so hot,” Bennett said. “I don’t what it was. I just got hot, and it all came out of me. It happened two plays earlier, then I threw the touchdown and just immediately threw up again.”
The theory is that Bennett actually over-hydrated. He had been pounding the water and PowerAde between offensive series on what was a relatively mild 82-degree day in Williams-Brice Stadium. The touchdown was Georgia’s third in a row on three offensive series.
“It was a heat thing,” Bennett said. “I had to re-hydrate after that. I went from over-hydration to dehydration. ... I wasn’t sick. This is the hottest place in the world. I don’t know what the temperature was, but it was really hot out there on the field.”
Bennett’s teammates loved it. Bowers, the sophomore tight end, caught five passes for 121 yards and scored three touchdowns, including a 78-yard catch and 5-yard run. But he had no idea what Bennett was dealing with before and after he hit Bowers on the fade pattern.
“I said ‘good throw’ and he just said ‘yeah’ and seemed a little down. Then somebody told me he threw up,” Bowers said. “It’s awesome.”
Center Sedrick Van Pran saw it all happen. Much to his chagrin.
“We were in the red zone, and all of a sudden I feel something tugging on the back of my jersey. It’s him signaling to huddle and he’s throwing up at the same time,” Van Pran said. “It was pretty cool. I was a little bit worried about him for a minute, but he was fine. Just a little over-heated.”
Bennett’s on-field spew sent the Bulldog Nation into a momentary panic. At first, it was unknown what was wrong with their beloved signal-caller. Was it a knee? His ribs? For what was he being attended on the Georgia sideline?
Alas, Bennett emerged from underneath cold, wet towels to oversee the Bulldogs’ very next possession. They didn’t score this time – a rarity this particular Saturday – but they would get a field goal. And, with that, a collective gasp was released as it was clear that No. 1-ranked Georgia was headed to another blowout victory.
“He actually was dry-heaving way back in the drive, back earlier when he threw a pass in the flat and didn’t quite get it there,” Smart said. “It was not a great pass, and I could tell something wasn’t right then. ... He was overhydrated in terms of drinking a lot of water. He kept saying he felt like he had to throw up, and he did. He’s a competitor. He wouldn’t come out.”
In case there was any doubt about Bennett’s health, he and Bowers hooked up again on Georgia’s first possession of the second half. Bowers’ broke open in the middle of the field and hauled in Bennett’s play-action pass for a 78-yard touchdown.
Those were only two highlight plays in a day of a bunch of them. Georgia’s first SEC victory of the season resulted in the largest margin ever over South Carolina. The previous mark was 40 points from Georgia’s 40-0 win in 1894.
The Bulldogs (3-0, 1-0 SEC) return to non-conference play Saturday against Kent State at Sanford Stadium. The Gamecocks (1-2, 0-2), in Year 2 under former Georgia assistant coach Shane Beamer, play Charlotte here next week.
Georgia 48 South Carolina 7
Bennett was not long in getting a more restorative rest. After his second scoring hookup with Bowers, he played only one more offensive series for the Bulldogs. Fittingly, that would end in his own score on an 11-yard run.
Bennett’s final numbers told a story of thorough domination: 16-of-23 passing for 284 yards and two touchdowns, plus a rushing score. Bennett left the game as the Bulldogs’ leading rusher with 36 yards. He would’ve had two more yards and another rushing TD had his foot not caught the sideline chalk on what ended up being a 15-yard run.
Yeah, this was Bennett’s day. And Bowers, too.
Georgia’s breakout star and leading receiver in last season’s run to the national championship, Bowers scored three times on two receptions and a 5-yard run on a tight-end reverse in the first quarter. Bowers finished with five catches for 121 yards after coming into the game with five for 95 for the season.
Ten Georgia players caught passes in the game. That included freshman tight end Oscar Delp, who scored the first touchdown of his career on a 28-yard reception from quarterback Carson Beck.
“We challenged our guys to come on the road and play really physical, attack from the get-go,” Smart said. “We talked about not treading water when you come in, to come in here to be the attacker and to hunt and not be hunted. I thought our kids bought into that.”
All the offensive fireworks rendered another suffocating performance by Georgia’s defense as a mere footnote. Freshman safety Malaki Starks grabbed his second interception of his young career and returned this one 42 yards to set up the Bulldogs’ second scoring drive. Junior defensive back and Dan Jackson and junior linebacker Trezmen Marshall also had picks. Freshman defensive end Mykel Williams recorded his second sack of the season, and linebacker Jamon “Pop” Dumas-Johnson collected a team-best six tackles.
The Bulldogs kept South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler under duress for the duration. Rattler, the high-profile transfer from Oklahoma, was 13-of-25 passing for 118 yards and no touchdowns when Georgia’s front-line defenders all headed to the sideline at the end of the third quarter. At that point, the Gamecocks ventured into Bulldogs’ territory only twice, once reaching the 33 and the other time punting from the Georgia 48.
The Gamecocks’ only touchdown came with 53 seconds left in the game against Georgia’s defensive backups. That was the first touchdown the Bulldogs have allowed all season.
“I took that personally, very personally,” senior outside linebacker Nolan Smith said. “That’s the entire defense’s body of work. It’s not because certain people are out there, 1s, 2s or 3s. If you’re on the field, you’re a starter for us, and you’re expected to play that way.”