College Sports

UGA kicker tips cap to USC’s Parker White: ‘He came through for his team’

Rodrigo Blankenship and Parker White didn’t have a chance to talk after South Carolina’s upset win over Georgia, but the admiration between the two teams’ kickers was obvious after the game despite the results being on opposite ends of spectrum.

White’s emotion was jubilation. He hit the game-winning 24-yarder while usually-dependable Blankenship missed a game-tying 42-yarder on the ensuing possession in the Gamecocks’ 20-17 win over the No. 3 Bulldogs in double overtime.

“Specialists, we are a little bit different … and always kind of stick together and root for each other,” a dejected Blankenship said after the game. “At the end of the day, I didn’t execute and do my job for this team.

“Hats off to (White). He had a 57-yarder at the end of regulation and he came up short. And he missed one in overtime period. But he was resilient and he bounced back and he came through for his team. Hats off to him. He is a very talented kicker.”

White had an up-and-down day for the Gamecocks. He hit a career-long 49-yarder to begin the day and then book-ended it with the game-winner. But two misses were sandwiched in between, including the 33-yarder in the first overtime.

Still, White was hoping for one more shot to come through for the Gamecocks. He did.

“It’s great to win the game. Really wish I would have had the one before that, you know, still feel a little bad about that one, but it’s all about the next kick,” White said. “So that’s really important. I just kept my head up all my teammates were supporting me know I get another chance and we did.”

White said he dropped to his knees in celebration when Blankenship missed the final kick as Gamecocks’ players stormed the field at Sanford Stadium. He wanted to talk to him afterward but the Georgia kicker already had gone to the locker room.

So White gave a message to Georgia punter Jake Camarda for Blankenship, the SEC’s leading scorer.

“I told him to tell Rodrigo that I said I great game and that he’s obviously one of the best kickers in the country. Nothing but good things to say about him,” White said.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart and UGA players also consoled Blankenship, who stood in the interview area and answered questions for about 10 minutes at the bottom of Sanford Stadium.

“I’m going to go back in the film room and see what happened on it, get a second opinion,” Blankenship said of the final kick. “My teammates got my back and are going to support me through and through.”

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Lou Bezjak is the High School Sports Prep Coordinator for The State and Island Packet. He has covered high school sports in South Carolina for 16 years and is a two-time South Carolina Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.