We'll never know where the football in South Carolina QB Dylan Thompson's hand really was when he was down on the ground under a mass of linemen in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game against Georgia.
But the spot he got was enough as South Carolina converted a fourth-and-inches with 1:22 left in the fourth quarter to hold on for a 38-35 win and guarantee the Bulldogs wouldn't get the ball again.
How close was it? Officially, it was this close.
Spotting the football can be an inexact science, especially when it comes to QB sneaks. The ball was at midfield and Thompson simply needed to get part of the ball to Georgia's side of the field for a first down. While he was wrapped up in the backfield, Thompson didn't lose yardage. But he didn't gain much either, at least what officials could tell from the pile.
When the measurement was done, Georgia thought it had stopped South Carolina while South Carolina got the first down.
It's not a bad call by any means; QB sneaks are successful more often than not, and are virtually guaranteed for such a short distance like that as long as the snap is clean. It just was incredibly decisive. Georgia had been able to move the ball very well against South Carolina's defense in the second half. Getting into field goal range would have been no big deal with over a minute remaining.
Making the field goal might have been a big deal. In the first half, Marshall Morgan set the SEC record for consecutive field goals made at 20. But after he set the record, Morgan missed two field goals, including one from 28 yards away with just over four minutes remaining that would have tied the game at 38-38.
The attempt was set up by an interception by Georgia's Damian Swann, who read the eyes of Thompson and returned the ball to the South Carolina 6-yard line. After an SC penalty put Georgia officially at the 4, an intentional grounding penalty by Hutson Mason on first down effectively killed any opportunity for a TD as South Carolina's defense made a crucial stop.
While Georgia scored three touchdowns in the second half, South Carolina was able to keep the Bulldogs behind the entire second half. Until the missed field goal, the Gamecocks had moved the lead back to two possessions every time Georgia crept within a touchdown.
With a win, Georgia would have assumed clear favorite status in the SEC East while South Carolina, at 0-2, would have been hoping for madness among the division to have a shot at making the SEC East championship.
Now, both teams have a loss and South Carolina could have the advantage. Both teams travel to Florida and the Gamecocks have Missouri, last year's SEC East winner at home while Georgia has to go to the other Columbia (Mo.) and face the Tigers.
It's also worth pointing out that the winner of this game has not won the East in each of the past three seasons.
The victory was South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier's 201st SEC victory, tying him for second on the SEC career victories list with longtime Georgia coach Vince Dooley.
- - - - - - -