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Holtz Still Looking for First Win

September 12, 1999

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) _ Lou Holtz knew he faced a rebuilding job at South Carolina. That doesn’t make the losing any easier to take.

The Gamecocks remained 0-for-Lou with a 24-9 loss to No. 11 Georgia, the extent of their offensive futility readily apparent with five sacks and 15 minus-yardage plays.

``We can play better than this,″ said Holtz, whose team was shut out in its opener and went nearly three quarters without scoring Saturday night. ``We have to play better than this.″

Courtney Leavitt finally erased South Carolina’s string of zeros with a 28-yard field goal with 2:58 left in the third period.

The Gamecocks (0-2, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) scored their first touchdown of the season in garbage time, Phil Petty throwing an 8-yard pass to Carlos Spikes with just over 3 minutes remaining.

``Nobody wants to lose,″ said Holtz, who has 216 victories in his college career. ``We came down here to win.″

The Gamecocks lost their last 10 games under former coach Brad Scott, then set off a wave of hysteria by hiring Holtz to revive the program. His impact is apparent everywhere among the South Carolina faithful, right down to the ``Lou″ signs waved by the cheerleaders.

Of course, all Holtz can do is coach. The Gamecocks need some guys who can pass, catch and block.

``Georgia is a good football team,″ said Petty, thoroughly battered in a 12-for-28, two-interception performance. ``They’re big, strong and powerful. We’ve got to get better as a team. We don’t have a lot of depth right now.″

A series in the third quarter demonstrated South Carolina’s offensive ineptitude. After picking up a first down on Perry’s 21-yard pass to Hood, the Gamecocks lost 22 yards on their next three plays.

Freshman Derek Watson was caught nine yards deep in the backfield by Tony Gilbert on an attempted option play, then Petty was sacked twice in a row, losing seven yards on a hit by Orantes Grant and six more when he was tripped up by Richard Seymour.

Watson, who rushed for 118 yards in his first game, managed only 29 yards in his second. That was still enough to lead the team on a night when South Carolina had just 46 yards on 30 carries.

For Georgia (2-0, 1-0), Quincy Carter threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Terrence Edwards, Jasper Sanks rushed for a career-high 130 yards and Kendrell Bell led a swarming defense with an interception and blocked punt.

Georgia built a 14-0 lead at halftime but struggled to put the Gamecocks away. The Bulldogs had 431 yards, but were plagued by a fumble in South Carolina territory and at least a dozen dropped passes.

``That was the worst game I’ve ever coached as far as dropped passes,″ said Georgia coach Jim Donnan.

Despite the drops, Carter went 21-of-38 for 251 yards. He also ran seven times for 33 yards.

``We take him for granted around here,″ Donnan said. ``He’s a human highlight film.″

The Bulldogs, who played without sophomore linebacker Will Witherspoon (sprained ankle) and junior flanker Michael Greer (migraine headaches), suffered another loss early in the second quarter.

Running back Robert Arnaud sprained his left knee after trying to dive over the top on first-and-goal from the 1. Arnaud was stuffed at the line by John Abraham, then apparently twisted his knee in the pileup that followed.

Arnaud will be out for at least three weeks, according to Donnan, who was upset about the way the injury occurred.

``They grabbed him in the pile and took his knee out,″ Donnan said. ``I don’t know if it was on purpose or not. Maybe they thought he was still running. But it’s tough when an injury happens like that.″

The Bulldogs had lost freshman running back DeJuan Green (fractured jaw) in the opener, so Donnan plans to give freshmen Charles Grant and Kenny Bailey more work in the backfield.

Georgia is off this weekend, while South Carolina meets East Carolina in Holtz’s first home game.