Georgia won the 41-year-old title with a 33-18 win over Bamas

by Ralph D. Rousseau

Indianapolis (AP) – Confetti rained down on Georgia. Bulldog fans chant “Kir-bye, Kir-bye!” Slogans.

The Bulldogs unleashed four decades of repressed emotions on Monday night to end a disappointing national championship drought by defeating their nemesis.

Stetson Bennett made the biggest throw of his storybook career and Georgia’s defense sealed the sweetest victory in the program’s history, beating Alabama 33-18 for their first title in 41 years in the college football playoffs.

“I’ve never been around a group of players who really wanted it so bad and that won’t be denied,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “I told the people in the locker room, just take a picture of it.”

Smart, a Bulldog defensive back in the mid-1990s, returned to his alma mater in 2016 after helping Nick Saban build a dynasty as an assistant in Alabama.

Georgia has become an elite program under Smart, but has not been able to pursue its Southeastern Conference rival.

So far.

“It was for all the glory, we took it,” said defensive Jordan Davis.

And they did it the way Alabama has broken their hearts several times in recent years: coming from behind and ending with a flourish.

Bennett paired with Adonai Mitchell on a 40-yard touchdown to give No. 3 Georgia a 19-18 lead with 8:09 and then an on-screen 15-yard TD with Brock Bowers to put the Bulldogs up eight added for With 3:33 left.

The final blow came from Georgia’s leading defense. Kelly Ringo throws a deep ball from Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young off the edge.

“I saw the ball in his hands and that’s all he wrote,” said the game’s defensive MVP security Lewis Caine.

With just over a minute left, Ringo got out from behind a convoy of blockers and went for 79 yards, chasing smart and yelling for him to go down so he couldn’t risk the rumble. The touchdown triggered a wild celebration by the relieved Georgia fans who packed Lucas Oil Stadium.

“Some property is going to be torn down in Indianapolis tonight,” Smart said, explaining the late Georgia play-by-play man Larry Munson.

The Bulldogs (14–1) had not won the national title since Herschel Walker had led them in 1980. Better.

“I cried, great,” said Bennett of how it felt.

Saban Tide won seven straight matches against the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs lost two SEC championship games, including one five weeks earlier, and the 2018 CFP title game in Alabama under Smart.

“I told them that we burnt the boats. The only way home was through them,” Smart said.

mission accomplished.

Bennett, the former walk-on starter, went on to score 17 for 26 for 224 yards and without a hitch.

For most of the first three quarters, the first CFP title game that was a rematch of a regular season game was an ol’ fashion SEC defensive clash in the middle of Big Ten country.

The first touchdown came in the third quarter with 1:20 remaining. After James Cook broke a 67-yard run to get the Bulldogs into the red zone, three more running plays – and a facemask penalty by Alabama – propelled them into the end zone. Zamir White lined up from a yard with massive defensive tackles as Jalen Carter and Davis advanced as blockers. The Bulldogs led 13-9 for the first time.

After adding another field goal by Alabama, the Tide caught the brakes on an awkward turnover.

As Bennett was being driven deep down into Georgia’s field, he tried to throw the ball away. The ball loosened, and bounced towards the sideline, which seemed harmless. Drew Sanders of Alabama casually grabbed him as he jogged out of bounds.

Surprisingly, the ruling on the field was a fumble, which was recovered by the Tide and retained by the replay, giving the ball to the red zone. After a few plays, Young removed the crowd and found Cameron LaToo for a 3-yard touchdown that left Alabama 18-13 up 10:14.

Once again it seemed that Georgia would not be able to break the ‘Bama curse’.

Bennett was 13 on 22 for 141 yards as the next drive began, and you could practically hear all of Georgia’s skeptical fans thinking that Smart had fired his four-star back-up QB, JT Daniels, into a Why not change for spark.

As he has done several times during a career that began on the scout team and made a detour through junior college in Mississippi, the small-town Georgia kid nicknamed The Mailman.

Bennett completed all three of his passes for 68 yards, including a lengthy strike to touchdown with an 8:09 to Mitchell, which gave the Bulldogs a one-point lead after failing a 2-point conversion.

The Bulldogs’ defense put pressure on Young, forcing a three-and-out on the Tide’s next drive, and then Georgia went to work to seal a long-awaited championship.

“It’s a little hard that I let them down today,” Young said. “I have to do better with this.”

The sophomore scored 35 for 359 yards with two interceptions, playing without his top two receivers for most of the game. All-American Jameson Williams was out early in the second quarter with a knee injury, and John Machi III was injured in the SEC title game.

Young was sacked three times because Georgia did not bring him down once in the first meeting.

“We played a game against a team for the first three quarters of the game,” said Saban, seventh with Alabama in the past 13 years, deprived of eight of his national titles. “No one can take the SEC championship away from this team, the Cotton Bowl championship.

“We just didn’t finish the way we needed to.”

After more than 40 years, it was time for Georgia to end.

“The amount of time you put into this thing, blood, sweat, tears,” said Bennett, “it means something.”


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