Heartache! Bulldogs come up five yards, four points short of SEC crown, national title game
Posted on Dec 1, 2012 by Murray Poole |
And in the case of the Georgia Bulldogs, the number was five. That’s the amount of yards that the Bulldogs came up short in a gut-wrenching 32-28 loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game Saturday in the Georgia Dome. Five yards and four points shy of not only winning the conference title but also a trip to the BCS national championship game against Notre Dame.
Trailing the Crimson Tide by those four points and punted back to their own 15-yard line with only 1:08 to play, Aaron Murray’s passing marched the Bulldogs all the way to the Alabama 5-yard line but a miracle finish was not to be as the clock ran out on Georgia after Chris Conley was downed at the Tide 5 upon pulling in a batted pass (by Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley) from Murray after the Georgia quarterback attempted to throw to the back of the end zone.
The Bulldogs will now take an 11-2 record into its bowl destination, which could be one of three as the post-season lineup is unveiled Sunday night … the Cotton, Capital One or right back in the Georgia Dome in the Chick-fil-A. The Crimson Tide of course will carry a 12-1 mark into the national title game Jan. 7 against top-ranked Notre Dame.
“It was a great effort, what I thought the difference was, we just ran out of time,” said Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt. “It was just one of those games. I told the team I was disappointed but that I wasn’t disappointed in them. It was a knock-down, drag-out fight. We just came up five yards short.
“We were attempting to throw the ball to Malcolm Mitchell in the back of the end zone” said Richt. “I think it was Malcolm, but the outside receiver, whoever it was, and the ball got batted and then it just landed, unfortunately, right in the arms of our guy (Conley) that was running the stout route, the inside receiver, and that’s not a good thing when you don’t have time-outs.”
“It was crazy that it was so close there at the end,” said an obviously distraught Murray. “That’s what you dream of as a little kid, to win the game like that and it’s crappy the way it ended. It’s terrible, I think on the last play we were on the 10-yard line and to be 10 yards away from making one of the greatest comebacks in Georgia history, it stinks.”
Murray said on the last-gasp drive, the Georgia offense was able to tune all the fan noise in the Dome out. “We didn’t notice at all, we were just going, making plays and our guys did a great job in the one-minute drill. I thought our line did a great job tonight and our receivers were making plays.
“I got to go back and watch the film, there were some more throws I could have completed,” added Murray. “This definitely stinks (finishing just short),” he reiterated. “I’m just too disappointed right now to think about much. It’s definitely going to happen, Florida going to a BCS bowl. It’s crappy the way it happened. I definitely think we should be in a BCS bowl. Being in the SEC championship game shouldn’t hurt you but it does in the end and that’s what stinks. But I’m proud of the way we played. Our defense definitely gave us the chances to win it.”
“It’s tough,” said a devastated Jarvis Jones, Georgia junior linebacker who surely played his next-to-last game in a Georgia uniform. “We worked hard to get to this point. It was definitely one of our goals to come here and win tonight. This one hurts … this one hurts bad.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Bulldogs would get on the board at the outset of the second period. Georgia marched 87 yards on 13 plays to move up 7-0 with 13:59 left until halftime. Murray had a 33-yard completion to Tavarres King on the drive but the big play came with the Bulldogs facing a fourth down at the Alabama 36. When the Bulldogs lined up to punt, Arthur Lynch took a short snap and passed to Sanders Commings for a 16-yard gain and a first down at the Tide 20. Two plays later, Murray hit tight end Jay Rome for the touchdown from 19 yards out, after which Marshall Morgan booted the PAT.
But just when it appeared the Georgia defense would shut out the Crimson Tide in the first half – after Commings intercepted McCarron in the end zone to cap a brilliant goal-line stand – Alabama quickly went 70 yards on six plays to tie the game at 7-7. Eddie Lacy got the touchdown when he broke through the line and sped 41 yards. Alabama’s extra-point kick came with just 1:59 left until halftime.
And moments later, the Crimson Tide was in business again. After Ha-Ha Clinton Dix picked off a deep Murray pass and returned the ball to the Georgia 47, the Tide hurried down to the Bulldog 5, from where Jeremy Shelley drilled a 22-yard field goal on the final play of the half to send Alabama into a 10-7 advantage at the intermission.
But the Bulldogs would start the second half on fire. Receiving the kickoff, they paraded 75 yards on nine plays to go up 14-10. Murray had a 31-yard strike to King on the drive and after Todd Gurley reeled off an 18-yard gain to the Alabama 4, the freshman tailback took it across in two plays. Morgan’s kick came with 12:09 left in the third.
The Georgia defense then electrified the crowd as senior end Cornelius Washington barreled through to block a Tide field goal attempt and linebacker Alec Ogletree scooped the ball up and raced 55 yards untouched to the end zone. Morgan’s kick made it 21-10 with 6:31 to go in the period and it appeared the Bulldogs were sailing toward Miami.
But, unfortunately, that Georgia advantage didn’t last for long as Alabama rode the running of freshman T.J. Yeldon on a 62-yard scoring march, with Yeldon getting the score from 10 yards out. Alabama then went for two with Yeldon going over to pull the Tide within 21-18. After the Bulldogs couldn’t convert a first down, Alabama then used the bulldozing runs of Lacy to surge 74 yards to take the lead at 25-21, Lacy scoring from one yard out on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs, though, would come back again, wheeling 75 yards on just five plays. A 45-yard strike from Murray to Marshall put the ball at the Alabama 12 and after Gurley gained two to the 10, the freshman again bulled through for the touchdown. Morgan’s kick with 12:54 left lifted Georgia up 28-25.
In this see-saw second half, Alabama then got a 45-yard touchdown bomb from McCarron to Amari Cooper to go back ahead 32-28 with just 3:15 remaining. That was to be the final score but not before Murray’s passing took the Bulldogs all the way to the Alabama 5-yard line before the final seconds unmercifully ran out on Georgia.
The Bulldogs went back and forth with the Tide the entire night, matching Alabama score for score. Georgia started slow in the run game but Gurley again rumbled over 100 yards on the night, going for 122 yards on 23 carries and tallying the two touchdowns. Murray also threw for 265 yards and one touchdown against the Tide secondary. He completed 18-of-33 with one costly interception. The main thing, this team didn’t quit, fighting back every time Alabama regained the lead.
What Didn’t Work
The Bulldogs knew coming into the championship game they would have to slow Alabama’s vaunted running attack, which they couldn’t do. The Crimson Tide rushed for an SEC title game record of 350 yards and continually kept the sticks moving when Georgia needed key stops. Game MVP Lacy ran for 181 yards while freshman Yeldon compiled 153 against the Bulldog defense. “That’s what they’re best at, pounding the football and I think they did a pretty good job of that tonight,” UGA cornerback Commings said. “It was one of those nights we just had trouble stopping the run.”
In addition to Gurley and Murray, senior wideout King snared five balls for 142 yards. Malcolm Mitchell had four catches for 40 yards and Lynch had three receptions for 50 yards. Defensively, Ogletree was the Bulldog leader with 11 total tackles and his run for the touchdown on the blocked field goal. Senior safety Shawn Williams had nine stops while Bacarri Rambo and Damian Swann followed with eight and seven tackles, respectively. Jarvis Jones added to his career sack total with two more of McCarron. John Jenkins also notched a sack while Commings managed his big interception in the end zone. Freshman Collin Barber also punted admirably in the big spotlight, averaging 44.8 yards on six kicks with two going inside the Alabama 20.
Where Will the Dogs Go Bowling?
While the Bulldogs await their bowl bid Sunday, Alabama head coach Nick Saban knows where Georgia ought to go.
“I’m going to tell you, that I think it’s a crying shame if Georgia doesn’t get to go to a BCS Bowl game,” said Saban. “They should get to go to a BCS Bowl game. They played a tremendous game out there today. That was a great football game by both teams. And they could have won at the end just as soon as us, and it came right down to the last play. So I mean, I think it’s ridiculous. I watch teams playing that are 7-5 that are talking about they might go to a BCS game because they won their championship? Something’s not right here.”
Tagged: georgia bulldogs, sec title game, alabama crimson tide, aaron murray, chris conley, tavarres king, jarvis jones, todd gurley, alec ogletree, jay rome, john jenkins, bacarri rambo, collin barber, eddie lacy, tj yeldon, aj mccarron, amari cooper, nick saban, cotton bowl, capital one bowl, chickfila bowl
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