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Pollack's fourth-quarter interception an odd gem

9/15/2002

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- On a team loaded with offensive stars,
Georgia coach Mark Richt knew who won this game.

"One of my first observations is that David Pollack is a
warrior,'' Richt said.

No one who watched the sophomore defensive end dominate South
Carolina on Saturday would argue.

Pollack recovered a fumble near Georgia's goal line in the
second quarter and then had a strange interception return for a
touchdown in the fourth as the Bulldogs (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) held on to
beat South Carolina 13-7 Saturday.

"I don't know how it happened,'' Pollack said.

Neither does South Carolina quarterback Corey Jenkins. He was
looking for an open Andrea Gause after dropping into the end zone.
Pollack swarmed over Jenkins, but did not appear to get much of the
ball.

"When I hit it,'' Pollack said, "I noticed it kind of stuck to
my hand.''

So did the referee, who put up his arms to signal touchdown as
Pollack ran toward his jumping teammates.

"That's when I thought, 'Oh my goodness, this is just one of
those days when everything is going to go wrong,''' Jenkins said.
He was just about right.

Pollack recovered a fumble by Andrew Pinnock in the second
quarter on Georgia's 3 after Tony Gilbert knocked the ball away
with his helmet.

Georgia lost freshman backup quarterback D.J. Shockley, who
broke a bone in his left foot and could be out for several weeks,
Richt said. Shockley, who ran and threw for a touchdown against
Clemson two weeks ago, was 0-for-3 against South Carolina.

In the SEC opener for both teams, Georgia (2-0) ended a two-game
losing streak to the Gamecocks (1-2), who have lost two straight
under coach Lou Holtz for the first time in two years.

Georgia's defense rose up one last time with South Carolina
driving in the final moments. Pinnock, the Gamecocks' goal-line
specialist with 22 career touchdowns, had Jenkins' pitch bounce off
his chest with 12 seconds left. Thomas Davis recovered and Georgia
ran out the clock.

"I dropped the pitch,'' Pinnock said, "and we lost the game.''

Holtz said offensive coordinator Skip Holtz wanted Jenkins to
run a tighter option on the final play. But the coach thought he
would succeed with Pinnock "in the open field going north-south,''
Holtz said. "It looked like a good pitch. I can't tell.''

As Tropical Storm Hanna made its way to Williams-Brice Stadium,
delaying the game by 52 minutes, it looked like Georgia kicker
Billy Bennett's early 22-yard field goal would be the only score of
the game.

That is, until Pollack started a crazy fourth quarter with his
score.

If it were up to Richt, Pollack might have never been in his
position. Pollack was tried at fullback and nose tackle before
settling in at defensive end last spring.

Pollack has proved his worth.

"He's got the heart of a lion,'' Richt said. "He's the kind of
guy who takes the knowledge and will work, work, work until he gets
better. Not only good at it, but great at it.''

The way Pollard held onto Jenkins' pass for the interception
score was perhaps the biggest play for a Georgia defense stretched
to the limit.

"Two guys trying to block him -- a lineman and a back -- beats
those two guys, then he bats down the pass and ends up catching
it,'' Richt said. "I've just never seen a play like that.''

The sloppy weather also played a role in Georgia's win.

"It was a little slippery,'' said Georgia tailback Musa Smith,
who rushed for 103 yards.

South Carolina receiver Matthew Thomas had a step on defender
Decory Bryant and dropped a sure touchdown strike in the second
quarter. Pinnock fumbled on the next series. And South Carolina
kicker Daniel Weaver pushed a 37-yard field goal try left as a
steady rain fell before half.

The Gamecocks drove inside Georgia's 25 in the third quarter,
but receiver Michael Ages was stopped a few feet shy of a first
down on a fourth-and-10 pass.