Georgia snaps 41-year title drought with 33-18 win over Bama

 1548238463 
1641856657
Alabama head coach Nick Saban watches warm ups before the College Football Playoff championship football game against Georgia Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Alabama head coach Nick Saban watches warm ups before the College Football Playoff championship football game against Georgia Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis.

Paul Sancya, AP

By RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Stetson Bennett delivered the biggest throws of his storybook career and Georgia’s defense sealed the sweetest victory in program history, vanquishing rival Alabama 33-18 in the College Football Playoff title Monday night for its first national title in 41 years.

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

The final blow came from Georgia’s dominant defense. Kelee Ringo intercepted an underthrown deep ball down the sideline by Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young. Instead of going down with a little over a minute left, Ringo took off and behind a convoy of blockers and went 79 yards for a touchdown that set off a wild celebration by the Georgia fans who packed Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Bulldogs (14-1) hadn’t won a national title since freshman Herschel Walker led them there in 1980. If simply snapping the drought wasn’t good enough, doing against No. 1 Alabama (13-2) had to make it feel even better.

Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide had won seven straight against the Bulldogs, including the last four against Georgia coach Kirby Smart, Saban’s longtime assistant.

Bennett, the former walk-on turned starter, finished 17 for 26 for 224 yards and no interceptions.

For most of the first three quarters, first CFP title game to be a rematch of a regular-season game was an ol’ fashion Southeastern Conference defensive struggle.

The first touchdown of the game came with 1:20 left in the third quarter. After James Cook broke a 67-yard run to get the Bulldogs into the red zone, three more running plays — a facemask penalty by Alabama — got them into the end zone. Zamir White went in standing up from a yard out with massive defensive tackles Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis leading the way as blockers. The Bulldogs led for the first time, 13-9.

After Alabama added another field goal, the Tide caught a break on strange looking turnover by the Bulldogs.

As Bennett was being taken down deep in Georgia territory, he tried to throw the ball away. The ball slipped loose, and bounced toward the sideline, seemingly harmlessly. Alabama’s Drew Sanders casually caught the ball as he was jogging out of bounds.

Surprisingly, the ruling on the field was a fumble, recovered by the Tide and replay upheld the call, giving the Tide the ball in the red zone. A few plays later, Young eluded the rush and found Cameron Latu for a 3-yard touchdown that put Alabama up 18-13 with 10:14 left in the fourth.

It felt again that Georgia would not be able to break whatever spell Alabama seemingly had on the Bulldogs.

Bennett was 13 for 22 for 141 yards as the next drive started, and you could practically hear all skeptical Georgia fans wondering why Smart didn’t turn to his four-star back-up QB, J.T. Daniels, for a spark.

As he has done so many times during a career that started on the scout team and took a detour through junior college in Mississippi, the small-town Georgia kid nicknamed Mailman came through.

Bennett complete all three of his passes for 68 yards, including a long strike to Mitchell for a touchdown with 8:09 left that gave the Bulldogs a 19-18 lead after a failed 2-point conversion.

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

News from WBHM will never be behind a paywall. Ever. We need your help to keep our coverage free for everyone. Please consider supporting the news you rely on with a donation today. You can support our journalism for as little as $5. Every contribution, no matter the size, propels our vital coverage. Thank you.

 

COVID relief funding package passes Alabama legislative committees

A plan to spend about $772 million is set for final passage as early as next week.

UAB surgeons transplant pig kidneys into a human body for the first time

Researchers hope genetically modified pig kidneys could potentially provide a life-saving solution for thousands of people who die every year waiting for a transplant.

Ivey calls special session on relief funds

Alabama lawmakers will put the 2022 regular legislative session on hold to start a special session beginning Jan. 19, according to an announcement by Gov. Kay Ivey.

As demand for travel nurses increases, hospitals in the South struggle to stay competitive

COVID-19 hospitalizations are now twice as high in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama as they were two weeks ago, contributing to now record hospitalization numbers nationwide.

Omicron is less severe, but it’s overwhelming Alabama’s hospitals

The omicron variant leads to fewer hospitalizations and deaths, but the variant is infecting more people than any previous surge.

Alabama lawmakers already planning a special session just days into the regular one

Legislators would use the special session to discuss appropriating COVID relief funds. We have more in our weekly legislative update.

More Front Page Coverage