College Football Playoff: The 5 plays that powered Georgia's national title win over Alabama

·5 min read

Georgia got its first national title since 1980 on Monday night with a 33-18 win over Alabama. The Bulldogs scored 27 points in the second half after trailing the Crimson Tide 9-6 at halftime to claim the school's first title in over 40 years and become the first SEC East team to win a national championship since Florida in 2008. 

Here are five of the plays that powered Georgia's win over the Crimson Tide. 

George Pickens’ 52-yard catch (1:42 1Q, 3-0 Alabama)

George Pickens is the most talented wide receiver on Georgia’s roster but has hardly seen the field during the 2021 season as he recovered from a torn ACL suffered in spring practice. After 85 catches for 1,240 yards and 14 TDs in his first two seasons at Georgia, Pickens entered the national title game with just four catches for 55 yards in three games as he worked his way back into the lineup.

He announced his presence early on Monday night with spectacular 52-yard catch from Stetson Bennett IV that helped set up Georgia’s first points of the game. Take a look at this beauty.

Georgia was only able to muster two field goals over the first 30 minutes. But the defense held Alabama to just three field goals and the game was within three points at halftime.

Georgia forces Alabama to kick a 21-yard field goal (12:59 4Q, 13-12 Georgia)

Georgia finally scored the first TD of the game with 1:20 to go in the third quarter when Zamir White scored on a one-yard rush for a 13-9 lead. Alabama took over on its own 25 after the ensuing kickoff and got to Georgia’s 5 in six plays.

The Georgia defense held from there. Freshman defensive back Kelee Ringo broke up a pass for Alabama freshman Agiye Hall on first down. On second down, the Georgia defense stuffed Brian Robinson for a 2-yard gain. And on third down, Bryce Young was forced to make an errant throw in the direction of Traeshon Holden after he was pressured in the pocket.

Should Alabama have gone for the TD on fourth down? A field goal simply cut Georgia’s lead to one. And if Alabama failed to take the lead on a TD, a Georgia offense that had struggled for most of the game would be taking over near its own goal line.

Nick Saban chose to go with the field goal to cut the lead to 13-12.

Adonai Mitchell’s 40-yard TD catch (8:09 4Q, 19-18 Georgia)

Georgia soon found itself trailing 18-13 after a wild sequence. Bennett was hit by Christian Harris while he threw and Brian Branch nonchalantly picked up the ball as it bounced out of bounds while apparently thinking that Bennett had thrown an incomplete pass.

He hadn’t. The ball was moving out of Bennett’s hand before his arm went forward and Branch’s foot was in bounds by less than an inch when he secured the ball. Four plays later, Alabama had an 18-13 lead after Bryce Young found Cameron Latu for a TD.

Georgia had to respond and respond quickly with 10 minutes to go in the game. After an Alabama pass interference quickly got the ball into Crimson Tide territory, Bennett threw a gorgeous deep ball to Adonai Mitchell and Mitchell made a fantastic catch to give Georgia a lead that it would never relinquish.

Brock Bowers' 15-yard TD catch (3:33 4Q, 26-18 Georgia)

Georgia’s defense forced a three-and-out from Alabama’s shorthanded offense right after Mitchell’s TD. The Crimson Tide played the second half without top wide receiver Jameson Williams after he suffered a left knee injury in the first half and entered the game without starting wide receiver John Metchie III after he suffered a knee injury in the SEC title game.

After getting the ball back, Georgia bullied its way through Alabama’s defense on four straight run plays. After another pass interference penalty on Alabama got the ball inside the 25, Bennett found Brock Bowers on a fantastic weak side throw on a run-pass option. With a blocker in front, Bowers ran 15 yards to the end zone to give Georgia an eight-point lead with 3:33 to go.

Kelee Ringo’s pick-six (0:54 4Q, 33-18 Georgia)

Ringo sealed Georgia’s national title minutes later. After leading Alabama back against Auburn in the final game of the regular season, Young seemed poised for another comeback in the biggest game of the year. But he underthrew his intended receiver on third down from the Georgia 44.

Ringo picked the ball off at his own 21 and took off down the right sideline with a convoy of blockers in front of him. He didn’t stop until he got to the end zone and Georgia fans could finally start to celebrate a national championship just months after the Atlanta Braves won the World Series. 

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