Georgia safety Josh Harvey-Clemons sits on the sidelines with his head in his hands following Saturday’s heartbreaking defeat for the Bulldogs, 32-28, against Alabama in the SEC Championship game.

Georgia safety Josh Harvey-Clemons sits on the sidelines with his head in his hands following Saturday’s heartbreaking defeat for the Bulldogs, 32-28, against Alabama in the SEC Championship game.

ATLANTA — Georgia was one play away the end of a 30-year wait for a shot at another national championship.

Instead of a celebrating a comeback to remember, Aaron Murray and the No. 3 Bulldogs will have to live with coming up 5 yards short.

“It came down to one play to win the SEC championship and play for the national championship,” Murray said.

Georgia’s last-minute rally ended on the Alabama 5-yard line as time expired, giving the No. 2 Crimson Tide a 32-28 win in Saturday’s Southeastern Conference championship game.

Alabama (12-1) advances to the national championship game against Notre Dame. Georgia (11-2) was denied its first national championship game since the 1982 season.

Only 1 minute, 8 seconds remained when Georgia took possession at its 15. It seemed to be too much field and too little time.

Still, Murray said the Bulldogs were confident.

“We have run four or five successful one-minute drives this season already,” he said. “We did more the ball extremely well, and we had a chance to win it.”

Murray completed four passes, three to tight end Arthur Lynch and one to Tavarres King. The offense remained on the field when an apparent interception by Alabama’s Dee Milliner was overturned when video review determined the ball hit the ground.

The last completion, a 26-yarder to Lynch, gave the Bulldogs a first down at Alabama’s 8. Murray believed Georgia could run two plays with 15 seconds remaining. He said he sensed Alabama’s defense wasn’t prepared if he could pull off a quick snap, so instead of spiking the ball the ball to stop the clock, he tried a fade pass intended for Malcolm Mitchell in the back corner of the end zone.

“It’s either a catch and a touchdown or it’s an incomplete pass and we still have time for a play, to take a quick shot with it,” Murray said.

Instead, the ball was tipped. George receiver Chris Conley caught the deflection and was tackled at the 5. With no timeouts remaining, Georgia couldn’t run another play.

“It probably would have been the greatest comeback in Georgia history,” Murray said. “It was exciting, that’s for sure.”

Exciting and deflating. Georgia players collapsed on the field. Some remained down on one knee, staring in stunned disbelief, as confetti began to fall on Alabama’s celebration.

King called the last play “insane.”

“It’s just something crazy that happens like that,” King said. “It’s just crazy. A crazy moment.”

Murray had another description.

“It stinks,” the quarterback said.

Murray completed 18 of 33 passes for 265 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the game that carried the potential to define his career.

Instead, the game belonged to AJ McCarron and the Crimson Tide.

McCarron threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper with 3:15 remaining. McCarron was 12 of 21 for 162 yards with an interception.

Georgia took its last lead at 28-25 on a 10-yard run by Todd Gurley, who had 122 yards rushing with two touchdowns, early in the final quarter.

Gurley couldn’t match Alabama’s 350 yards rushing. Eddie Lacy had 181 yards with two touchdowns. T.J. Yeldon added 153 yards rushing with a touchdown.

“They’ve got a great running game and two great running backs,” said Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree.

Keith Marshall had only three yards on two carries as Georgia’s complement to Gurley.

Alabama, which has won two of the last three national championships, now has a chance for another. It will face Notre Dame for the BCS crown on Jan. 7 in Miami.

“I’m ready to have heart attack here,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said.

Georgia’s consolation prize will likely be a spot in the Capital One Bowl, though they certainly looked like a team fully deserving of a BCS bid. Georgia coach Mark Richt said his team had the play it wanted at the end, but Alabama ruined it by getting a hand on the ball.

“I told the guys I was disappointed, but I’m not disappointed in them,” Richt said. “They’re warriors. We had a chance at the end. We just didn’t get it done.”

In a back-and-forth second half that looked nothing like a game in the defensive-minded SEC, the Crimson Tide trailed 21-10 after Ogletree returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs’ sideline erupted in jubilation as Georgia appeared to take control of the game.

But Alabama rallied behind a punishing run game and then won it through the air.

With Georgia stacking the line, McCarron fooled the Bulldogs with play action and delivered a perfectly thrown pass to Cooper, who beat Damian Swann in single coverage.

Georgia played like a champion, too.

The Bulldogs punted the ball back to Alabama with 2:25 left, relying on its defense to finally stop the Tide. Georgia used up its final two timeouts, forced a punt and got the ball back at its 15.

The last-minute drive fell short, but Murray said the Bulldogs could be proud of their effort.

“We’re a great team,” Murray said. “We’ve worked extremely hard. I feel for our guys.”

Comments

VSU 2 years ago

Forgive me for saying I am not impressed with the Tide winning the championship game. It's hard to win a game when you have biased officiating. They call pass interference on Georgia on a ball that was 20 yards out of reach from the receiver that eventully led to a touchdown. Then on a punt return, an Alabama blocker blocked a Georgia player from behind which 99 times out of 100 they would penalize the offending team for illegal block in the back but on this particular play the officials turned and looked the other way. They should have been moved back deeper into their own territory, but instead it left them with good field position and that eventually lead to the winning touchdown. It's a shame that a good SEC championship game had to be ruined due to incompetent officials. These must have been the same officials used in the replacement games in the NFL, yeah, i know they were not the same ones, but they are just as bad. I realize this is not Alabama's fault, but I can't respect a championship in a game based on biased officiating. That is why i have no respect for the Miami Heat in the NBA, because of biased officials. Labron James can slam a person to the court and no foul is called, somebody barely touches LaBron and the official calls a foul. Call the game straight down the middle and let the best team win. No doubt Alabama is a better team than Georgia, but they should not need help from the offricials to win the game just because the NCAA didn't want Georgia in the National title game. No I am not a sore loser, if they lost straight out, I could accept the defeat, but when the officials help give the other team extra opportunities, I can't accept that. I'm proud of the dawgs for putting out a good effort and make a game out of it, but it was not good enough.

Alabama should have been penalized for having too many men on the field. Their 11 players, plus the officiating crew. Ha! Sorry, couldn't resist.

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FlunkyMonkey 2 years ago

In regard to extra opportunities, I am assuming you are NOT referring to the interception at the end of the game, that according to officials, wasn't an interception thereby giving Georgia another chance to win and THEY BLEW IT---again!

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VSU 2 years ago

Well honestly I didn't get to watch the whole game, just bits and pieces and I was judging by what I saw, i realized later maybe it wasn't fair to jump the gun without seeing the whole game. It just seems that all georgia teams, and I am not just talking Bulldogs but Braves, Hawks, Falcons always seems to have calls go against them.

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The_Dude 2 years ago

That ball hit the ground. It was pretty clear his arms came apart and trapped the football.

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FlunkyMonkey 2 years ago

Typical Georgia. While you may not have been outplayed as the two teams appeared to be evenly matched, Georgia made the same argument about the officials when they lost against South Carolina. I don't think Georgia has ever had a loss where the officials weren't blamed. Here's a new one--Alabama didn't need slanted calls from the officials, they just figured out how to win--and the legs of Lacy and Yeldon were the all the weapons they needed.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years ago

The only problem call (it was a no-call) was when the Alabama lineman clocked Murray, helmet to helmet. That was VERY poor officiating and a ref was standing right there looking at it. But there were some pretty big no-calls that went Georogia's way, including a really obvious holding call on Georgia's last touchdown run right at the hole.

Georgia played a great game and McCarron's passing was much worse than I expected. Georgia's defense played great every game after being called out by Saunders. He should become a coach (and not apologize in the future for standing up for what's right).

Either team would wipe the field with Notre Dame. I call a 30-point victory in the BCS title game for Alabama.

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The_Dude 2 years ago

Shawn Williams (from Early County!) was the guy who called the defense out and turned the season around. Other than that, your analysis is spot on.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years ago

Yes that's who I meant. My mind is a terrible thing. We are friends in this matter.

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