Notebook: Lorenzo Carter, Terry Godwin and Rodrigo Blankenship deliver for Georgia
SOUTH BEND — Lorenzo Carter’s path to the quarterback couldn’t have been clearer.
Notre Dame had driven the ball to Georgia’s 35-yard line looking to regain the lead late in the third quarter. The previous drive ended with a Sony Michel touchdown and the first lead of the game, 17-16, for the Bulldogs.
Carter, a senior outside linebacker, helped Georgia hold on to the lead a bit longer. He rushed on the right edge of Notre Dame’s offensive line and wasn’t touched until he closed in on quarterback Brandon Wimbush. Irish running back Josh Adams tried to impede Carter’s path with a late dive, but Carter already had reached Wimbush’s chest.
Carter took the quarterback to the ground, knocked the ball loose and wrestled it away from Wimbush on the ground. By himself, he impacted the outcome of the game.
“I came free and had to go straight line as fast as I can to the quarterback,” Carter said.
Notre Dame and Georgia would eventually trade field goals to push the final score to 20-19 in favor of the Bulldogs. But not until Carter clinched the game with another play in the backfield.
Georgia linebacker Davin Bellamy forced another Wimbush fumble on Notre Dame’s last drive of the game, and Carter found himself in position to secure the ball with a crowd around him. His recovery gave Georgia the ball with 1:27 left in the game and a chance to run out the clock.
“Coming off the edge, I saw my boy, my brother on the other side, coming free,” Carter said of Bellamy. “So I knew I had to get ready for him to make a play. Once he made that play, I had to be ready to do what I do and get on the ball.”
The 6-foot-6, 243-pound pass rusher was once a prospect coveted by the Irish out of Norcross (Ga.) High. He visited South Bend in the summer of 2013, but he eventually signed with the Bulldogs. After Saturday’s win, Carter said he returned for his senior season at Georgia for games like that.
“I knew we were making this trip up to South Bend,” Carter said. “I had to be a part of it. Especially the way we finished up last year (8-5). I wanted to come back and do something better.”
Hard to do much better than seven tackles, two fumble recoveries and one sack at Notre Dame Stadium.
Earlier this week, Rodrigo Blankenship was a walk-on kicker at Georgia.
In the last three days, he received a full-ride scholarship and kicked a game-winning field goal at Notre Dame. His 30-yard kick with 3:34 remaining gave the Bulldogs a 20-19 lead and capped one heck of a week.
News of Blankenship’s scholarship offer didn’t come out until after the game. He was asked by reporters to recall when and how it happened. To the best of his memory, it came before Thursday’s practice.
“The last couple days are a little blurry,” Blankenship said. “(Head coach Kirby Smart) had just called me into his office and told me ‘It’s yours.’”
Blankenship’s father was vocal in the offseason about his son not receiving a scholarship offer after securing the starting job as a redshirt freshman in 2016. The 6-1, 191-pound product of Marietta, Ga., made 14-of-18 field goals last season and converted all 26 extra points.
Blankenship made two of his three field goals Saturday night. He scored the first points of the game for Georgia (a 27-yard field goal in the first quarter) and the last points.
“I would imagine he’s through the roof right now,” Blankenship said of his father. “When you’re a parent, you just want to do what’s right for your kid and you want them to have what you think they deserve.
“Maybe I didn’t deserve it at the time, but timing is everything. Everything happens for a reason if the Lord wills it to be that way. He needed me to wait a little bit longer.”
Terry Godwin made the play of the night on Georgia’s first touchdown.
Quarterback Jake Fromm threw him a pass down the right sideline in the end zone that appeared out of reach. Instead, the junior wide receiver reached back with his right hand and secured the ball against his shoulder pad as he kept his right foot in the end zone before falling out of bounds.
It instantly drew comparisons to New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, who has a penchant for making one-handed catches.
“That’s a guy that I look up to in the NFL,” Godwin said. “Just going out there and being able to make a catch compared to something that he did, that’s big time.”
Big time, yes, but Godwin acted like it wasn’t anything new after the game. He said he makes catches like that all the time in practice.
“One hand, two hands, I’m trying to go catch the ball,” Godwin said. “I came up and made a big play for the team and put us in a great position.”
The play was initially ruled an incomplete pass, but it was overturned following a replay. The five-yard catch allowed Georgia to tie the game at 10 with 6:45 left in the second quarter.
“I knew for a fact I was in,” Godwin said, “and I knew I had possession of the ball.”