INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Stetson Bennett scored the biggest shot of his storytelling career, and the Georgia defense sealed the sweetest win in program history, beating challenger Alabama 33-18 in a college football playoff title Monday night for theirs. first national title in 41 years.
Bennett hooked up with Adonai Mitchell for a 40-yard touchdown to give Georgia No. 3 a 19-18 lead with 8:09 to finish, and then hooked up with Brock Bowers for a 15-yard touchdown onscreen to get the Bulldogs eight with 3 left: 33.
The final blow came from the dominant defense of Georgia. Keli Ringo intercepted a thrown ball over the sideline by Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young. Rather than falling just over a minute before the end, Ringo flew behind the blockers’ convoy and walked 79 yards for a touchdown, sparking a thunderous celebration from the Georgia fans filling the Lucas Oil stadium.
The Bulldogs (14-1) have not won a national title since freshman Herschel Walker brought them there in 1980. Feels even better.
Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide have won seven straight games against the Bulldogs, including the last four wins against Georgia coach Kirby Smart, Saban’s longtime assistant.
Bennett, the former starter, finished 17 of 26 for 224 yards without interceptions.
For much of the first three quarters, the first CFP title game to be a regular season rematch was the old-fashioned defensive fight of the Southeast Conference.
The first touchdown in the game occurred 1:20 before the end of the third quarter. After James Cook interrupted 67 yards to get the Bulldogs into the red zone, three more rallies – and a masked Alabama penalty kick – brought them into the home zone. Zamir White got up from the yard with Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis in the lead as blockers. The Bulldogs took the lead with a score of 13-9 for the first time.
After Alabama added another field goal, Tide took a break due to an odd loss to the Bulldogs.
When Bennett was knocked down deep in Georgia, he tried to throw the ball. The ball slipped out of his hands and bounced back to the sideline, seemingly harmlessly. Drew Sanders of Alabama accidentally caught the ball while running out of bounds.
Surprisingly, the on-field decision was a groping restored by Tide, and a replay confirmed the challenge, sending Tide the ball into the red zone. A few rallies later, Young dodged the hype and found Cameron Lata to land 3 yards, bringing Alabama up 18-13 from 10:14 to the end of the fourth.
Once again, there was a feeling that Georgia would not be able to break the spell that Alabama had seemingly cast on the Bulldogs.
Bennett was 13-22-141 yards when the next race started, and you could almost hear all the skeptical Georgia fans wondering why Smart hadn’t turned to his four-star stunt double JT Daniels for a spark.
As he has done many times over the course of his career, which began as a scouting team and worked his way through junior college in Mississippi, a small-town Georgia boy nicknamed The Postman went through it.
Bennett made all three passes for 68 yards, including a long shot to Mitchell for a touchdown with 8:09 to finish, giving the Bulldogs a 19-18 lead after a two-point miscarriage.
The Bulldog defense overwhelmed Young, forcing Tide to score three or more, and then Georgia set to work on the long-awaited championship.