Georgia Bulldogs take control in 4th quarter, win rematch vs. Alabama Crimson Tide for first college football national championship since 1980

INDIANAPOLIS – Georgia’s agonizing 41-year wait is over.

With 54 seconds left in Monday night’s college football playoff national championship game presented by AT&T, Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo intercepted Alabama quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young and the ‘returned for 79 yards for a touchdown – the longest pick of six in Championship game history – – cementing the No.3 Bulldogs’ 33-18 victory over the No.1 Crimson Tide and the first National Championship in the program since 1980.

The game brought Georgian quarterback Stetson Bennett, a former coach, to tears on the sidelines, and as soon as time ran out, Georgia’s assistant coaches and staff rushed to the elevators in the press room. shaking from Lucas Oil Stadium, with a cry, “Hell yeah!” as they thundered clapping together.

On the pitch, coach Kirby Smart said he was squeezing the neck of 89-year-old Vince Dooley, Georgia’s last coach before Smart to win the national title, and they were both in tears.

“I said to the guys in the locker room, just take a pic of that, because I think back to the championship picture from the ’80s and seen all those players and the Frank Walkers and the Herschel Walkers and all of them. those people who reached out and said things, “said Smart.” Our guys accomplished this, something special, and like they say, they became legendary, and I want it for them. “

Georgia fans lingered longer after the trophy was presented, chanting “Kir-by! Kir-by! Kir-by!” As players and coaches celebrated on the pitch in an explosion of sparkling confetti.

“I haven’t cried in – I don’t know, years – but it just took me,” said Bennett, who overcame a slow start to lead the Bulldogs’ charge in the fourth quarter and was named a player. offense of the game. “That’s what – when you spend as much time on this thing as we do, blood, sweat, tears, it means something.”

While it was a familiar clash featuring two teams that faced off in the 2018 National Title Game and again in this year’s SEC Championship Game – both wins in Alabama – it was was a very different result in front of an announced crowd of 68,311. In the 2018 National Championship, Alabama beat Georgia in overtime 26-23.

Some things To do cash.

“It was the group crying in the locker room,” Smart said, referring to former players Nick Chubb, Richard LeCounte and D’Andre Swift, who came to see him on Monday night. “This group has done everything for them.”

Georgia finished 14-1, the most wins in school history.

Alabama’s seven-game winning streak in the series – a streak that began in 2008 – has been broken. Alabama coach Nick Saban is now 25-2 against his former assistants, with the two losses coming this season – Monday night to Georgia coach Kirby Smart, who served under him in Alabama, and during the regular season against Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M, who was Saban’s offensive coordinator at LSU.

Saban said he congratulated Smart after the game.

“I love Kirby,” Saban said. “I think Kirby has a lot of respect for us. He has done a great job for us for a long time. If we were to lose a national championship I would rather lose one to one of the old assistants who certainly did a great job for us and did a great job for his program and his team.

“I’m really proud of him. And I’m proud of the way he has been able to coach his team and the consistency with which they have played all year.”

Despite the critics who lamented the rematch, there was no shortage of drama or entertainment between the all-too-familiar enemies. What started as a defensive slugfest with no touchdowns in the first half – Georgia’s six points at halftime were their fewer this season – has turned into a showcase of big games, with the two teams trading touchdowns and missing two-point conversions in the fourth quarter. They delivered a 180-degree thriller different from their game a month ago in the SEC Championship, when Alabama roughed up Georgia up front for a resounding 41-24 victory.

Smart said since the loss in December the Bulldogs have been training a lot more man-to-man and “making some things simpler.” They didn’t want Bama’s top receiver Jameson Williams, who left the game in the first half with a left knee injury, to beat them. They wanted to put more pressure on Young, which they did. They also wanted to leave the field on the third try, so that they could stay fresh and “have a chance to run better”.

It worked.

“They changed some things,” Young said. “We knew we could have different looks. Some looks took me a little while just to get off.… And I have to deal with this faster, just make the right play for the team better than I have. did tonight. So they changed some things, and I couldn’t run.

Both quarters struggled, especially early in the game. Bennett has been sacked four times in total, Young three. Bennett, who was criticized following his two interceptions in the SEC title game, improved as the game progressed and overcame a costly fumble. He completed 17 of 26 passes for 224 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

“Five years ago he was delivering assists like Baker Mayfield against the Scouts,” said Smart. “There are a lot of guys who have seen him on that scout team playing with his feet, his whip and his decision making, and we were very impressed. But again, to think it would come so far from that. national championship that he was a part of [in 2018] to this one, man, what a story. “

Smart said he got off the elevator on the 15th floor of the team’s hotel earlier this week and saw Dooley sitting on a bench, locked out of his room.

“I thought God had put him there for me to see the night before his game, and he was waiting for his key to go up to his room,” said Smart. “I just knew it meant something. It was a special and special victory.”

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