How Georgia beat Alabama to win the national college football championship

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NYT > Sports

Jan. 10, 2022, 11:58 p.m. ET

Jan. 10, 2022, 11:58 p.m. ET

Georgia 33, Alabama 18

imageGeorgia running back Zamir White scored the game's first touchdown with a 1-yard run late in the third quarter.Credit…AJ Mast for the New York Times

Over the past few years, Georgia fans’ deepest desires have seemed a mystery at times: did they want a national championship or just beat Alabama?

On Monday night, Georgia did both – dethroning the reigning national college football champion and winning its first own title since the 1980 season – with the Sterling Defense that drove the Bulldogs to Indianapolis and a late offensive power to Alabama , 33, to overtake. 18th

The Bulldogs sealed their title in a way that was as exquisite for their fans as it was for Alabama: with about a minute to go, Kelee Ringo, a Redshirt freshman, intercepted Bryce Young, Alabama’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, and ran for the touchdown .

“Some property is being demolished tonight in Indianapolis,” said Georgia coach Kirby Smart, a Bulldog defender in the 1990s, recalling a cherished radio call from Georgia’s fabled 1980 campaign.

“Do you know who really believed?” Smart soon asked from the stage, his voice rising like a southern preacher speaking football. “All of these men here.”

After Alabama and Georgia hit five field goals together in the first half, it seemed possible for so much of the game that neither team would hit double-digit points, just more than a month after Alabama Georgia was in a Southeastern Conference Championship humbled game that ended in a one-sided result of 41-24.

Credit…AJ Mast for the New York Times

But Georgia’s Jalen Carter blocked the Crimson Tide’s attempt to add another field goal early in the third quarter, and the Bulldogs quickly scored a goal from Zamir White to take the 13-9 lead, their first of the night. Just before that, James Cook, a senior running back from Miami, had a 67-yard run, a career high.

Alabama offered a partial response on its next drive, advancing well enough to have a first down just five yards from the goal line. Two incomplete passes and a measly onslaught later, it settled on a field goal and narrowed the score to 13-12.

Less than 90 seconds later, when Georgia hit a third and an 8 on their own, Christian Harris headed for Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett. When Harris wrapped his arms around the quarterback and his hands slipped over the Georgia starter’s torso, Bennett collapsed – but not before fumbling and positioning Alabama to score with ease.

Alabama immediately took an 18-13 lead when Young threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Latu, despite Crimson Tide missing out on a 2-point conversion attempt.

However, a selective eruption took shape.

After a touchback, Bennett and his receivers were 40 yards from the end zone, supported by a pass interference penalty but stabbed again by a sack. Alabama was sidelined in second.

It was a free game that Georgia benefited amply from. Adonai Mitchell raced off the line of scrimmage when Bennett stepped back into midfield. The ball darted through the air at Lucas Oil Stadium, where 68,311 people were believed to have gathered, and sank as Mitchell neared the goal line.

Credit…AJ Mast for the New York Times

When he was past it, the ball arrived and caught his grip as it was flung skyward, an Alabama defender watching its every twitch. The men landed near the far corner of the end zone, with Mitchell’s triumph catapulting Georgia to a 1-point lead as the Bulldogs stalled even on a 2-point conversion attempt.

Alabama went three and out on their next possession. Georgia responded with a 62-yard, seven-game drive that culminated with Brock Bowers, a freshman tight end, caught a pass, and stormed towards the end zone for a touchdown.

Suddenly, a team from Georgia that scored 6 points in the first half had 26 points – an 8 point lead over a panting Alabama.

The Crimson Tide brought the ball past midfield and kept a glimmer of hope alive.

But on the third and 10th, Young made a throw and Georgia’s Ringo jumped around his own 21 and grabbed the ball. Now it was his turn to run. He rumbled toward the end zone.

About 79 meters later he scored a goal. It was soon 33-18, Georgia.

The Bulldogs would win and take a streak of seven games against Alabama. Nobody doubted.

Nobody could.

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