Lewis Cine, Stetson Bennett and Jordan Davis celebrate Georgia’s National Championship (Caroline Darney, USA Today)
Lewis Cine, Stetson Bennett and Jordan Davis celebrate Georgia’s National Championship

Caroline Darney, USA Today

Georgia Bulldogs are the 2021 National Champions

January 12, 2022

Indianapolis, IN- “Biggest third down of Bryce Young’s career, from the pocket, launching downfield, underthrown and intercepted, Kelee Ringo has an escort down the sidelines all the way to the endzone, Georgia is gonna conquer the Crimson Tide!” said ESPN’s Chris Fowler in the final minute of the 2022 National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium. After 41 years (some good, others not so much) the Georgia Bulldogs finally raised the National Championship trophy winning 33-18 in Indianapolis in a game for the ages.

Additionally, the Bulldogs were finally able to defeat the Alabama Crimson Tide and Nick Saban for the first time in 15 years. Many Georgia fans were finally able to let go of the devastating memories of 2nd and 26, Jalen Hurts game-winning run in the 2018 SEC Championship and the blowouts in 2020 and 2021 in the process.

Georgia and Alabama previously collided in Atlanta in the 2021 SEC Championship where the Crimson Tide dismantled the Bulldogs winning 41-24 thanks to efforts from Sophomore quarterback Bryce Young and Sophomore linebacker Will Anderson Jr. Alabama was able to get pressure on Senior quarterback Stetson Bennett and force him into many mistakes including an interception returned for a touchdown to seal the deal for Alabama.

Alabama was rewarded with a #1 spot in the playoffs due to their efforts in the SEC Championship game. Michigan was given the #2 spot after winning the Big 10 conference. The playoff committee felt that Georgia was still one of the nation’s best teams, so they were given a #3 spot. Cincinnati snagged the final spot with an undefeated season and an American Conference Championship. The playoff games were set; Alabama would play Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl and Michigan would play Georgia in the Orange Bowl.

Both Alabama and Georgia were able to handle their opponents with Alabama winning 27-6 and Georgia winning 34-11 setting up a rematch for the National Title.

Going into the Championship game the questions were much different. How could Georgia’s elite defense contain Bryce Young? Can Stetson Bennett win for the Dawgs? How could Alabama adjust to Georgia’s adjustments? How will Bryce Young perform against Georgia’s defense?

The game started with Alabama receiving the ball first. The first controversial moment came early when Bryce Young “fumbled the ball” while trying to throw out of a sack, then Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean scooped the ball up and ran it into the endzone for a Georgia touchdown. The play would be reviewed and ruled that Young’s arm came forward resulting in an incomplete pass and erasing the Georgia touchdown. After that Alabama swiftly drove the ball down the field on Georgia’s defense and Alabama’s kicker Will Reichard kicked a field goal for the game’s first points. Georgia’s first offensive drive almost resulted in near disaster when Stetson Bennett fumbled the ball but quickly jumped back on it, Georgia would later stall out and punt back to Alabama. The next big play came when Bennett threw a 52-yard pass to George Pickens (Pickens tore his ACL in spring practice and was not even supposed to play this year) the big play resulted in a Jack Podlesny field goal. Alabama would respond with a field goal of their own pushing their lead to 6-3.

Disaster would strike for Alabama when Young threw a pass to star receiver Jameson Williams who would tear his ACL after coming down for the catch, putting him out for the rest of the game and most likely ending his career at Alabama. Young would respond with a big third-down pass to tight end Christian Latu for 61-yards setting up another Alabama field goal. Georgia would bring the game closer with a field goal towards the end of the half with the halftime score of 9-6 in favor of Alabama.

Georgia would receive the second-half kickoff and ultimately stall out; however, Georgia’s punter Jake Camarda would pin the Crimson Tide deep on their side of the field. On second down Young would overshoot his receiver and throw it into the hands of Georgia safety Chris Smith. Georgia was unable to do anything with the ball and would have to punt it back to Alabama. With a few big runs thanks to Alabama running back Brian Robinson, Alabama would attempt a field goal to try and push their lead. However, Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter was able to power through the line of scrimmage and block the kick, denying Alabama any points. Georgia’s running back James Cook would take advantage of the momentum swing and would take the ball 67 yards into the red zone. Running back Zamir White would have on a one yard run to score the first touchdown of the game giving Georgia a 13-9 lead. Young would respond with a 28-yard completion to Agiye Hall to set up the Tide with a first and goal. Georgia’s defense would prevail, and Alabama would settle for a field goal bringing the score to 13-12.

The game’s next controversial moment would come in the fourth quarter when Bennett would attempt to throw out of a sack, however, Bennett’s “pass” was ruled a fumble scooped up by defensive back Brian Branch, giving Alabama the ball at the Georgia 16. On third and goal Young would complete a pass to Latu for three yards and Alabama would be back on top 18-13 after a failed two-point conversion.

Knowing the game was coming close to the end Bennett would have to come up with a huge response for his previous mistake. Bennett would complete passes and move the ball up to the Alabama 32. Bennett would then be sacked moving the ball back to the Alabama 40 and angering many Georgia fans. The very next play Bennett would catch Alabama’s defense napping after getting them to jump offsides forcing a free play. Bennett then put all his body into a throw towards Georgia freshman receiver Adonai Mitchell, who made a miraculous catch in the endzone over an Alabama defender. Georgia would be back out in front leading 19-18 with eight minutes to go in the national championship. Georgia’s defense would come up big forcing an Alabama three and out and giving the ball right back to Georgia’s offense. After multiple big runs by running backs White and Cook Georgia would be set up with a third and one at the Alabama 15. Bennett would complete his pass to fan-favorite freshman tight end Brock Bowers and he would run it in for a 15-yard touchdown putting the Bulldogs ahead by eight with just over three minutes left to play.

Now it was Young’s turn to act as the savior of Alabama football. Young would complete multiple throws receivers Traeshon Holden, Latu and Robinson to move the ball down the field. After two dropped passes, Alabama would be faced with a third and ten with the game on the line. Young would then throw an interception to Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo who would return the ball for a 79-yard touchdown icing the game for Georgia.

Stetson Bennett was named offensive player of the game while safety Lewis Cine was named defensive player of the game.

During the trophy presentation ceremony, Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart said it best “There’s gonna be some property torn up in Indianapolis tonight” when speaking on how monumental the win was. The win was also a huge deal to Stetson Bennett. Bennett, a Blackshear, GA native, grew up a Georgia fan and always wanted to play Quarterback for the Bulldogs. Bennett was always a small kid additionally he received only one scholarship offer coming out of high school. Bennett decided to try his luck as a preferred walk-on at Georgia. It was apparent to Bennett that he would most likely never see the field, so he decided to transfer to Jones County Community College in Mississippi to try and get some film. After a year in Mississippi, Bennett would receive a call from Kirby Smart offering him a scholarship to come back to Georgia. Bennett would still be behind multiple quarterbacks. His time to shine would come in 2020 where he would bring the Bulldogs back to beat Arkansas. Later in the season, he would be replaced with USC transfer JT Daniels, and it seemed that Daniels would be the starter from here on out. In 2021 Daniels would go down with injury and Bennett would make his start against Arkansas. Smart and offensive coordinator decided to stick with Bennett in a high-stakes gamble that would ultimately pay off.

At the end of the 2020 season, many Bulldogs such as defensive tackle Jordan Davis, linebacker Channing Tindall, and running back James Cook decided they would come back for their senior season and try and win it all for the Bulldogs.

Another interesting note is that freshmen Adonai Mitchell, Brock Bowers and Kelee Ringo all scored touchdowns and accounted for 20 of Georgia’s 33 points. This shows how much Smart values recruiting top-tier talent.

The future looks bright for the Bulldogs with many players making their return to the program and a #3 recruiting class in the nation. Many seniors will leave, and others are expected to transfer, but another national title run is a real possibility for the Bulldogs once again.

What a season it has been for the Georgia Bulldogs and their fans!

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