Indianapolis: They had waited more than 40 years for Monday night, as Georgia last reached this position when Herschel Walker jumped, Jimmy Carter lived in the White House, and Vince Dooley wore a tie on the sidelines.
georgia football appeared occasionally under mark richt, peaked under jim donnan, and worked hard in the later years of ray goff.
Georgia’s proud fan base amassed a generation of scar tissue hoping for a national championship as four decades of futility included the second-and-26 in the 2017 title game against Alabama and the supposed fate of this season being devastated in the misery of the second game for the title. .
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when the time finally came to give georgia its first national title in 41 seasons, it came only after this georgia team looked to its demons, sparked another devious chapter and spent the fourth quarter against alabama on monday night toggling the fine line between history and infamy.
in the end, 5-foot-11 senior quarterback stetson bennett got the ending right: for the game, for a career that began as a half-parcel player, and for the fairy tale that will be remembered as an emblematic moment in the history of the school.
after a controversial fumble gave alabama the lead and momentum with nearly 10 minutes remaining, bennett rewrote georgia soccer history by taming fanbase fatalism and leading a pair of series touchdown in a 33-18 national title victory.
“I wasn’t going to be the reason we lost this game,” Bennett said.
After that self-inflicted injury put Georgia behind 18-13, Bennett outpointed Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young and stamped himself in Georgia lore. After Bennett gave the Bulldogs an 8-point lead with a pair of clutch touchdowns, they sealed the game when Young threw a 79-yard pick-six to Kelee Ringo with 54 seconds remaining on what could have been the game’s drive. game tie. After failing to score a touchdown through the game’s first 43 minutes, Georgia scored four in the final 16:20. “It kind of hit me on the sidelines,” Bennett said.
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bennett capped those back-to-back touchdown drives with a 40-yard pass to adonai mitchell and a 15-yard pass to star freshman tight end brock bowers. With Twitter trainers begging Kirby Smart to kick Bennett out as JT Daniels backup, Bainbridge’s son got Blackshear’s walk-on. and two boys from georgia will be forever bonded by the frenzied fourth-quarter flurry that made history.
“I cried,” Bennett said. he added: “I can’t articulate it. I’m not that smart but I feel great.”
also smart, a georgia graduate who won his first national title in his sixth season in athens. he did it by finally beating his mentor, nick saban, on his fifth down.
“If we had to lose a national championship, I would rather lose one to one of the former assistants who certainly did a great job for us and has done a great job for his program and his team,” said saban.
As historians look back on this sun-drenched Georgia moment, perusing the scoreboard will never do justice to the sense of dread that followed Bennett’s fumble with 11:45 remaining in the fourth quarter. Alabama’s Christian Harris tied Bennett’s waist, and Bennett appeared to fumble the ball before his throwing hand advanced. live, few people recognized that it was a fumble.
Brian Branch of Alabama didn’t seem to know it, as he nonchalantly cornered what he assumed was an incomplete pass and it turned out he had a few blades of grass between his right big toe and the sideline. That turnover gave Alabama the ball at the Georgia 16-yard line and cashed in four plays later with a 3-yard touchdown reception from Cameron Latu and an 18-13 Crimson Tide lead.
“There’s no way we’d let a rotation like that stop us from winning a national championship,” Bennett said.
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That was Alabama’s first touchdown, as the Tide had struggled to muster much offense throughout the game. A knee injury to star receiver jameson williams, combined with leading receiver john metchie’s injury in the second season’s title game, hampered alabama’s passing offense. Young finished the game 35-for-57 for 369 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions as Alabama gained 137 fewer yards, averaged 3 fewer yards per play (7.7 to 4.7) and allowed four more sacks than in the second title game. “I think our defense is definitely in the history books,” Georgia defensive back Lewis Cine said.
With no touchdown for either team in the first half, Georgia’s collision with fate came thanks to countless violent collisions throughout the game. The game’s signature show of dominance came when 310-pound defensive tackle Jalen Carter scrambled across the Alabama line to block a third-quarter field goal. Carter raised his left leg and slammed the ball into the air, penetrating so deep into the point of attack that he didn’t seem to have to jump to block the kick.
“It’s just a merit of toughness and tenacity,” said Smart, who mentioned taking Carter off the kick return team to help him pass better. Carter didn’t appreciate that. “I thought he was going to beat me up there,” Smart said.
It’s hard to say for Georgia fans if there’s a corollary between the waiting and the joy, the longing and the reward and the collective angst that preceded this breakthrough.
It’s much easier to predict that this Georgia team will forever be associated with Bennett’s rise, as they showcased the brashness of Baker Mayfield, combined it with the patience and development of Joe Burrow, and withstood a relentless wave of skeptics.
at least three times after the game, bennett made it clear that the fumble would not define him, would not undo this game or team. And in the end, it was the heisman winner who tried to explain what happened, the greatest coach in the history of the sport enduring a fourth-quarter absence, and a proud program that finally rose to where it always felt it belonged.
bennett’s journey from college to college and back to athens will long be a standard bet on oneself. Bennett overcame skeptics of him and unlocked Georgia’s ability to do the same.
“Man, what a story,” Smart said of Bennett, before adding, “This is a special group that will be remembered for a long time.”