No. 3 Georgia defeats No. 1 Alabama to win first college football championship in 41 years
The game was a rematch of the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 4
(CNN) — The Georgia Bulldogs won their first Division I football title since the 1980 season, upsetting the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide 33-18 in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night in Indianapolis.
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett completed 17 of 26 passes and threw two touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs to their first win over their Southeastern Conference rival since 2007.
“A lot of guys made plays and that’s what this team has been, a collective group of people stepping up when they’re needed,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said.
The game was a rematch of SEC Championship Game on December 4 in Atlanta when the Tide handed the Bulldogs their only loss of the season 41-24.
“We really focused on playing man-to-man and doing it better than they did,” Smart said.
After a tight first half that saw five field goals from the two teams, the game opened up after intermission.
With the Tide leading 9-6, Georgia got a third-quarter touchdown from running back Zamir White to take its first lead at 13-9.
Alabama, the defending champion, got a fourth-quarter field goal from Will Reichard and a 3-yard touchdown catch from tight end Cameron Latu to lead 18-13. But Alabama didn’t score again.
“I just feel really poorly that we didn’t finish the game better than we did in the fourth quarter, because we played a heck of a game against a heck of a team for the first three quarters of the game,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
The Bulldogs used a 40-yard pass from Bennett to wide receiver Adonai Mitchell to take the lead and with just over three minutes to go grabbed a 26-18 lead with Bennett hitting tight end Brock Bowers for a 15-yard catch and run.
Alabama, needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion to tie, began to drive behind Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young. But Young’s throw in the direction of wide receiver Traeshon Holden was short and picked off by Georgia’s Kelee Ringo who motored up the sideline for a 79-yard touchdown to ice the game.
“We had a lot of opportunities, moved the ball relatively well,” Young said. “We did some stuff well. We didn’t execute. And at the end of the day that’s on me. For us not finishing drives like we want to, it’s just not executing.”
Bennett was named the offensive player of the game. Georgia defensive back Lewis Cine was named defensive player of the game. He had seven tackles.
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