Tide rebound in second half for massive win over Bulldogs
By ZAC AL-KHATEEB - Sporting News
It certainly had “Game of the Year” moments, but Saturday’s meeting between No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia — which pitted the Tide’s top-ranked offense against Georgia’s top-ranked defense — ended up in a predictable 41-24 win for the Crimson Tide.
The game could not have started worse for Alabama (4-0, 4-0 SEC) after Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari forced an interception on the first play from scrimmage by Mac Jones. Three plays later, a Justin Eboigbe interception of Stetson Bennett set the tone for what would be a wild first half. Bennett was efficient early, matching Jones’ stat line of two touchdowns and an interception in the first 30 minutes.
For a while, it seemed as if Alabama’s defense — which put up a historically bad effort against Ole Miss — would cost the Tide again: Georgia (3-1, 3-1 SEC) took a 24-17 lead with less than a minute remaining in the half on a 5-yard touchdown connection between Bennett and Jermaine Burton. But Alabama managed to sneak in a 52-yard field goal with a second remaining to make the score 24-20 at halftime. The kick, it seemed, completely turned the tide of the game.
Alabama’s defense responded in a big way in the second half, holding Georgia scoreless and forcing two punts, two interceptions and a missed field goal attempt. Meanwhile, Alabama scored on three consecutive drives, capped by a 90-yard Jaylen Waddle touchdown catch, a 2-yard Najee Harris touchdown run and a 13-yard DeVonta Smith touchdown catch, respectively.
Against that No. 1 Georgia defense, Jones completed 24 of 32 passes for 410 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. Harris was equally impressive, rushing 31 times for 152 yards and a score. Receivers Smith (11 catches, 167 yards, two touchdowns), Waddle (six catches, 161 yards, one score) and John Metchie III (three catches, 50 yards, one touchdown) also had excellent games.
Bennett finished the game completing 18 of 40 passes for 269 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Running back Zamir White rushed 10 times for 57 yards, while running back James Cook led all Bulldogs in receiving yards: He had four receptions for 101 yards and a score. Burton had four catches for 58 yards along with his touchdown.
Below are the live updates, highlights and scores from Saturday’s top-five SEC matchup between Alabama and Georgia in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama vs. Georgia score
Alabama vs. Georgia live updates, highlights
(All times Eastern)
Final: Alabama 41, Georgia 24
11:31 p.m.: And Alabama just sucks the life out of Georgia’s defense with a ton of runs — not unlike the pre-Lane Kiffin units. That will do it from Tuscaloosa.
11:27 p.m.: Harris is now gashing Georgia’s defense. He has 128 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.
11:26 p.m.: Harris gets a first down run — every ticking second is a dagger for the Bulldogs’ hopes of winning.
11:23 p.m.: GEORGIA MISSED FIELD GOAL. That’s a rough outcome for Georgia; Podlesny misses the 35-yard field goal just to the left. With just over six minutes remaining, that could be it for Georgia.
11:23 p.m.: Bama gets off the field after Bennett only nets 4 yards on a third-and-14. The field goal team is coming out to attempt to make it a two-touchdown game.
11:22 p.m.: Harris is in on another couple plays to make it third-and-14 for Georgia from the Alabama 22.
11:20 p.m.: A Christian Harris sack is negated by a hold on Josh Jobe. Georgia gets 10 yards to the Alabama 36 and a fresh set of downs.
11:18 p.m.: Georgia needs to get something going now. Bennett hits Jackson for a 19-yard gain into Alabama territory with roughly 8:30 left to play.
11:13 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN ALABAMA. Jones goes for the dagger! He hits Smith in the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown. Incredible effort by Smith not only to high-point the ball over the defender, but to also bring his foot down inbounds and maintain control of the ball through the end of the catch. It’s 41-24 Alabama with 9:32 remaining.
11:11 p.m.: Harris uses a patient power run game to net another third-down conversion. That’s the sixth straight run by Alabama this drive (after the Waddle target).
11:09 p.m.: Tide are turning to Harris after that free set of downs. Ideal outcome for Bama would be to kill clock and get a score here.
11:07 p.m.: Go for the kill. Jones targets Waddle, who is held by Tyrique Stevenson. That’s an automatic first down and 10 yards for Alabama. The Tide are driving in Georgia territory.
11:07 p.m.: What will Alabama do now that it has a 10-point lead and the ball? Try to grind out drives or go for the kill?
11:04 p.m.: INTERCEPTION ALABAMA. Bennett avoids the sack, rolls out and throws the ball to Alabama’s Daniel Wright. A block in the back backs Alabama up to its 45-yard line, but that’s another huge play by the Tide defense.
10:54 p.m.: Alabama gets a fresh set of downs after Stokes is called for pass interference on Smith in the end zone. Alabama gets the ball at the 2-yard line.
10:52 p.m.: And now Alabama is getting cute — Harris flips the ball back to Jones for a flea-flicker, and Jones hits Smith for a 34-yard gain to the Georgia 11.
10:51 p.m.: INTERCEPTION ALABAMA. A tipped pass ricochets into freshman Malachi Moore’s hands, and he returns it 42 yards to the Alabama 44. Great opportunity here for Alabama.
10:49 p.m.: Georgia trading haymakers with Alabama. Bennett finds Burton for a 36-yard gain to Alabama’s 35. One play later, James Cook takes it 11 yards for another first down. Bulldogs are already driving near the red zone.
10:44 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN ALABAMA. Waddle finally makes the big play on a 90-yard touchdown reception from Jones to retake the lead for the first time this half. Alabama leads 27-24 with four minutes remaining in the third.
10:39 p.m.: Georgia punter Jake Camarda boots it 48 yards on fourth-and-2 from Georgia’s 43-yard line. Kudos to the Bulldogs’ punt coverage team, as well: They’re not letting Jaylen Waddle get anything. He calls a fair catch at Alabama’s 9.
10:37 p.m.: Georgia continues to rely on the run on their next drive, getting 3 yards on a third-and-1 carry.
10:32 p.m.: Alabama tries to go hurry-up, but it seems there was a mix-up between Jones and Forristal. He is hit hard for a 7-yard loss sack by Nakobe Dean, and the Tide’s drive stalls at the Georgia 41. The Bulldogs take over at their 9-yard line after the punt.
10:30 p.m.: Jones gets a couple of 10-plus-yard passes to Smith, followed by a holding call by Georgia on Waddle. The Tide are already out to their 47-yard line.
10:29 p.m.: Jones is a little gimpy after getting hit out of bounds on the throwaway — will we see some more pressure dialed up by Georgia?
10:27 p.m.: Alabama will take over at its 10-yard line, but smart play by Smart to — no pun intended — to steal a timeout.
10:24 p.m.: Josh Jobe breaks up an intended pass to Burton, making it fourth-and-5 from the Alabama 44. But Georgia forces an Alabama timeout looking to attempt a fourth-down conversion.
10:23 p.m.: The Bulldogs are relying heavily on the ground game early in the second half; trying to set up play-action?
10:22 p.m.: Georgia uses the run to get a couple of chunk plays; the Bulldogs are already driving just past midfield.
10:21 p.m.: Georgia gets a decent return and will take over at its 39-yard line.
Halftime: Georgia 24, Alabama 20
10:03 p.m.: Some halftime stats: Alabama has outgained Georgia 298-268. The Tide have a 244-177 advantage through the air, but Georgia has 91 rushing yards to Alabama’s 74.
Mac Jones has completed 15 of 23 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns to one interception; Stetson Bennett is 12 of 25 for 177 yards and two touchdowns to one pick.
Alabama’s Najee Harris leads all rushers with 80 yards off just 13 carries. Georgia’s James Cook — a running back — leads all receivers with 101 yards off four receptions. Each of Alabama’s primary receivers has more than 50 yards on the night as well (DeVonta Smith: 86 yards, one touchdown; Jaylen Waddle: 70 receiving yards; John Metchie III: 50 yards, one touchdown).
10 p.m: FIELD GOAL ALABAMA. Reichard just sneaks it inside the left upright for a 52-yard field goal. That makes it 24-20 Georgia, but that’s a pretty big momentum swing for the Tide right before halftime.
9:57 p.m.: Jones hits Waddle for a first down down to the Georgia 34; Alabama spikes it with just a second remaining. The Tide will attempt a 52-yard field goal.
9:55 p.m.: Jones then hits Forristal to get out to the Georgia 46. One more decent gain and Alabama can attempt a long field goal.
9:54 p.m.: Harris gets a 14-yard gain on first down, and Alabama calls a timeout. They may try to get something going right before half with 16 seconds remaining.
9:52 p.m.: And the call is confirmed. 24-17 Georgia.
9:51 p.m.: Somehow, that play is under review. That should stand.
9:49 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN GEORGIA. Bennett doesn’t miss this time; he hits Burton in the back of the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown with just 23 seconds remaining in the half. That’s four straight scoring possessions for Georgia, and they get the ball to start the second half.
9:31 p.m.: Jones has all day to throw and finds Smith for a huge third-down-converting connection. Alabama’s driving at the Georgia 20.
9:30 p.m.: Alabama still trying to throw haymakers; Jones hits Waddle for a 38-yard pickup to Georgia’s 37.
9:26 p.m.: FIELD GOAL GEORGIA. Jack Podlesny boots a 50-yard field goal right down the center to extend Georgia’s lead back to 17-10.
9:25 p.m.: Alabama finally gets off the field on third down; Bennett had Kenny McIntosh open, but his pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage.
9:22 p.m.: Georgia converts on third-and-2 with a 19-yard connection with George Pickens, his first catch of the game.
9:17 p.m: FIELD GOAL ALABAMA. And Reichard knocks it through; he’s 3 for 3 on the season and narrows Georgia’s lead to 14-10.
9:16 p.m.: Jones is sacked for a small loss on third down; Alabama kicker Will Reichard out to attempt the 33-yard field goal.
9:11 p.m.: Forristal makes a third down-converting catch and immediately falls down. Alabama has it first-and-10 at Georgia’s 21.
9:10 p.m.: Eric Stokes is called for holding on Smith, giving Alabama 10 yards and an automatic first down. Mental error by the DB there gives the Tide a fresh set of downs at the Georgia 33.
9:07 p.m.: Another catch by Smith, this one for 13 yards. However, Jones is called for unintentional grounding on the next play, making it second-and-22 from the Alabama 45.
9:06 p.m.: Alabama comes out swinging on their ensuing drive. Jones connects with DeVonta Smith on consecutive passes to get the Tide out to Georgia’s 45 (the last pass was nearly intercepted, however).
9:02 p.m: TOUCHDOWN GEORGIA. The Bulldogs’ first play of the second quarter is an 82-yard touchdown connection between Bennett and Cook. Alabama linebacker Christian Harris had position to defend it but completely misjudged the ball. That’ll make it 14-7 Georgia, the Bulldogs’ first lead of the night.
8:57 p.m.: Alabama gets out to near midfield before stalling on the drive. Georgia will take over at its 14-yard line after the punt with just a couple seconds remaining in the quarter.
8:54 p.m.: Jones hit DeVonta Smith for the first time on the crossing route for a 12-yard gain. Bama is driving at its 37-yard line. One play later, Harris grinds for an 11-yard gain to get out to the 48.
8:51 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN GEORGIA. One play later, White takes it up the gut for a 10-yard score to tie the game at 7 apiece.
Zamir White’s path to the end zone: straight up the middle.
8:50 p.m.: Georgia converts on third down with Bennett catching James Cook out of the backfield. Bulldogs have it first-and-goal from the 10.
8:47 p.m.: Receiver Jermaine Burton drops a touchdown pass in the end zone — Bennett’s pass was slightly behind, but still very catchable. It’s third-and-9 Georgia from Alabama’s 20.
8:46 p.m.: On the ensuing play, freshman running back Kendall Milton gashes Alabama for 24 yards straight up the gut. Georgia is driving at the 21, just outside the red zone.
8:45 p.m.: Stetson hits Jackson down the sideline, but the receiver can’t bring it in. The Bulldogs will face second-and-10 from Alabaama’s 45.
8:44 p.m.: Jones clearly feels pressure on the third-down pass-rush and short-arms it to his open receiver. A 30-yard punt gives Georgia the ball around its 40.
8:43 p.m.: Waddle drops a pass that would have gone for 26 yards to midfield; but it’s not all bad. Forristal is out of the locker room and running on his own power.
8:41 p.m.: Three straight rushes by Harris get Alabama out to its 24-yard line.
8:37 p.m.: Waddle gets a decent return, but Patrick Surtain II is called for block in the back. The Tide will take over at their own 7.
8:36 p.m.: Alabama gets off the field on third down; Bennett tried to hit Kearis Jackson, but Alabama’s Daniel Wright and Brian Branch double-covered it. Punt team coming on again.
8:34 p.m.: Zamir White takes the ball off left tackle for a 10-yard gain on second-and-10. Georgia’s now driving at the 24.
8:30 p.m.: Jones hits Metchie underneath for a 9-yard gain out to the 49. It’s fourth-and-1, but the punting unit will come out. Georgia will take over at their 15-yard line.
8:28 p.m.: Bama starts the next drive with a 17-yard run up the gut by Najee Harris. Tide driving at the 40.
8:24 p.m.: The Alabama defense forces a Stetson Bennett sack on third-and-long; Dylan Moses and Christian Barmore get the credit. That’s an interception and three-and-out by the Tide defense to start the game. Alabama will take back over on its 23.
8:18 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN ALABAMA. On the very next play, Jones hits John Metchie III over the top for a 40-yard touchdown with 13:16 left in the quarter.
8:11 p.m.: Already there’s a huge play by Georgia. On the first play from scrimmage, linebacker Azeez Ojulari knocks pressures Mac Jones and knocks affects his pass; Richard Lecounte is credited for the interception, but it’s under review. Meanwhile, tight end Miller Forristal is being looked at by trainers.
8:10 p.m.: Georgia wins the toss and defers. Alabama’s offense will take over at the 24-yard line to start the game.
Alabama’s game against Georgia is the second of three “SEC on CBS” broadcasts for the Tide in 2020; the first was a 52-24 win vs. Texas A&M in Week 5; the third will be at LSU in Tiger Stadium on Nov. 14. As for Georgia, this is the first of two “SEC on CBS” broadcasts.The Bulldogs’ second appearance will occur on Nov. 7 against Florida in Jacksonville, Fla.