The junior tailback was the Bulldogs’ all-purpose yardage leader with 54 on the ground, 50 through the air and 15 on punt returns. He scored the Bulldogs’ first touchdown of the game on a 12-yard reception from David Greene.
Tyson Browning was forced into more action than usual when starting tailback Danny Ware left the game in the second quarter due to a severe chest bruise. Ware coughed up blood on the sideline, making the Bulldogs fear he had a bruised lung.
However, an X-ray revealed no bruise on his lung, Coach Mark Richt said. Georgia was about to put Ware back in the game in the second half when he coughed up more blood, Richt said.
“We think he’s going to be fine, but we couldn’t put him back in there,” Richt said.
Freshman Thomas Brown, the second string tailback, wasn’t available because he re-injured his hamstring Thursday.
Browning and Michael Cooper filled in nicely. Cooper, who was the team’s leading rusher last year but had fallen to fourth on the depth chart this week, led the Bulldogs with 61 yards on the ground. Cooper rushed for the first down that clinched the game.
“It’s real gratifying to just get in and be able to contribute,” he said. “It’s just a real confidence booster.”
Still, Browning was the star despite fumbling a punt after South Carolina’s first possession stalled. The ball was recovered by Orus Lambert at Georgia’s 32-yard line. The Gamecocks didn’t score on the play, but the field position set up a South Carolina safety on Georgia’s next possession.
The play reminded Browning on his last trip to Columbia, in 2002, when he fumbled on his first collegiate carry.
Browning coughed the ball up again with 6:21 left in the game when he caught a short pass from Greene and was hit immediately. Ricardo Hurley recovered the ball at Georgia’s 16-yard line.
Still, “the coaches never stopped believing in me,” Browning said.
“We know Tyson is a playmaker,” offensive coordinator Neil Callaway said. “Just get the ball in his hands, and he makes things happen.”
South Carolina had running back troubles, as starter Demetris Summers suffered an ankle injury on the first play from scrimmage. He returned to the game in the second half but was never very effective, finishing with two carries for 15 yards.
“Losing Demetris affected us big time,” Gamecocks coach Lou Holtz said. “He’s the one guy who can make things happen. It’s just different when he runs it. But it’s all part of it. Someone else has to step up when that happens.”