ATLANTA, Ga- On a neutral Mercedes-Benz Stadium turf, the no. 1 Georgia Bulldogs fall, 41-24, to the 3rd-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship.
Head coach Kirby Smart on atmosphere- “I told our kids there’s no better atmosphere in the country than the SEC Championship. Just disappointed in how we played. Give Alabama a lot of credit. Give their defense, Bryce Young, and their offensive skill players a lot of credit. They played really well.”
Stetson Bennett finished the game 29-of-48 passing with 340 yards and 3 touchdowns. Bennett also finished with 2 interceptions including a pick-6. His 48 passing attempts would be a career high as well as his 340 yards. His previous career high in attempts also came against Alabama last season.
Head coach Kirby Smart on Bennett- “I have the utmost confidence in Stetson Bennett. I think he did some really nice things tonight and we go and reevaluate everything all the time. He played well and it’s a tough environment we put him in defensively.”
Brock Bowers led all Bulldog receivers with 10 catches for 139 yards, both of which being an SEC Championship game record for a tight end. Bowers also added a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Ladd McConkey and Darnell Washington also added receiving touchdowns.
James Cook finished with a team high 38 rushing yards on 11 carries. Kenny McIntosh followed behind with 32 yards on 4 carries.
Lewis Cine led the way for the Bulldog defense with 7 tackles while 4 other defenders, including Nakobe Dean, followed behind with 5 tackles. The Bulldogs struggled to pressure Alabama quarterback Bryce Young as his 421 passing yards broke the SEC Championship Game record.
Head coach Kirby Smart on Bryce Young- “He was elite at getting the ball to the playmakers. He knew where to go with the ball. He keeps his eyes downfield with the rush where a lot of the quarterbacks don’t do that.”
Alabama extended their scoring streak to 5-straight drives after Bryce Young connected with Jameson Williams from 55-yards out. Williams second touchdown of the day came on the drive’s 5th play extending the Tide lead to 31-17 just under 2 minutes into the half.
In need of a response, the Bulldogs drove to the Alabama 20-yard line before Stetson Bennet’s pass was intercepted by Alabama’s DeMarcco Hellams. The 11-play drive was sustained by a successful quarterback sneak on fourth down just two plays prior to the turnover.
Following an Alabama punt, the Bulldogs sustained their second-straight double-digit play drive before turning the ball over on downs at the Tide 19-yard line. Bennett kept the drive alive early with an 11-yard completion on third down to Brock Bowers. On fourth down, Bennett’s pass sailed incomplete as the third quarter ended.
Georgia’s defense forced a second-straight Alabama punt, only to be followed by Stetson Bennett’s second interception of the half to Alabama safety Jordan Battle. Battle returned the interception 55-yards into the endzone extending the Crimson Tide’s lead to 38-17 with 11:59 remaining in the game.
Stetson Bennett returned to the field after the pick-6 and led a 7-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a Brock Bower’s touchdown. Stetson connected with Bowers for 31-yards on the drive’s 4th play before Bowers later took a screen pass into the endzone from 18-yards out. The Alabama lead would be cut to 38-24 with 9:42 remaining in the game.
Alabama punted the ball back to Georgia with 8:16 left in the game. Following a 19-yard and 11-yard completion to Brock Bowers, the Bulldog offense stalled at the UGA 46-yard line. The Bulldogs lined up for a fourth down play, but instead elected to punt after a false start penalty.
To conclude the game’s scoring, the Crimson Tide responded with a 12-play, 62-yard drive resulting in a field goal. The field goal increased Alabama’s lead to 41-24 with 1:59 remaining in the game as the drive totaled just over 5-minutes in possession.
The Bulldogs will await the playoff committee selection to determine Georgia’s playoff chances. The College Football Playoff Selection show will air tomorrow at noon ET.
Please see Georgia Trails Alabama 24-17 at Half in SEC Championship for first half recap.