Saturday, December 1, 2012

SEC Championship: Alabama Punches Ticket to 2nd Straight National Championship Appearance, Beat Georgia 32-28

     Arguably no game to date this season has had as big of implications that the SEC Championship game between #2 Alabama and #3 Georgia had. Not only was the conference championship on the line, a trip to the National Championship game was at stake. After a scoreless first quarter, Georgia got on the board first when Aaron Murray hooked up with Jay Rome to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead. This was set up a few plays prior when Georgia faked a punt as Arthur Lynch threw a 16 yd pass to Sander Commings.

     After exchanging punts, Alabama got the ball back and looked as if they would tie the game up. Georgia's defense however, would come up with a big goal line stand. A few plays before Georgia  allowed Alabama's drive to continue because of  penalty due to a late hit. After the penalty, Georgia intercepted an Alabama pass when Commings picked off A.J. McCarron in the endzone. Georgia though, could not capitalize off the big defensive stand and quickly went three & out, giving the ball right back to Alabama.

     Getting the ball back, Alabama's Offense would this time perservere. Just as soon as getting the ball back, Alabama quickly made up for their missed opportunity from their last drive when Eddie Lacy ran for a 41yd TD, which was set up by great blocking from the Alabama Offensive Line, to tie the game at 7-7.

    On Georgia's next drive, Murray was picked off by Ha'Sean Clinton Dix when he underthrew his intended receiver. Dix would return the ball 35 yards, setting up a 22yd. FG by Jeremy Shelley to give the Crimson Tide a 10-7 lead heading into halftime.

     The Bulldogs would get the ball first to start the 2nd half. Able to shake off the interception right before the end of the 1st half, Murray threw a 31 yard pass to Tavarres King on the third play of the opening drive. Freshman Running Back Todd Gurley, took over the rest of the drive, racking up 44 yards en route to a rushing TD on 7 carries, as the Bulldogs quickly regained the lead 14-10

     Alabama's next possession ended on a questionable call as a pass interference call was waved off as the ref ruled the ball had been tipped. Thus negating the pass interference. Alabama was forced to settle for a FG attempt which ended up being blocked by Georgia's Cornelius Washington, and picked up by fellow teammate Alec Ogletree who returned the blocked kick 55 yards for a TD. Giving the Bulldogs a 21-10 lead early in the 3rd.

     Despite the quick turnaround, Alabama wasn't phased. Alabama's own Freshman Running Back T.J. Yeldon, single handily got Alabama quickly back in the game. In just a little over 2 minutes, Yeldon took the Crimson Tide downfield, thanks to his 47 yards on 4 carries, and punched the ball into the endzone for a TD. Yeldon then finished off the scoring drive by completeing the two point conversion, trimming Georgia's lead to 3. Just as it seemed momentum was on Georgia's side, it quickly shifted right back to Alabama, as they held Georgia to another 3 & out on their next possession.

    With the ball back, Alabama's other Running Back Eddie Lacy, help put together a drive on his own by carrying the ball for 61 yards on the Tide's first 3 plays of their next possession. Aided by his young ward Yeldon, who helped Alabama get all the way down to the one on his 2 carries for 14 yard, Lacy plunged into the endzone for a 1yd TD run (which was the first play to start the 4th quarter) Alabama was now back on top, 25-21.

     Georgia though did not panic. Instead they put together a quick scoring drive thanks in part to two passing plays by Murray that went for 62 yards, the Bulldogs capped off the scoring drive with a Gurley 10 yd TD run. Quickly regaining the lead again by a score of 28-25 with a little less than 13 minutes remaining. After exchanging quick scoring drives, both teams would then exchange punts on each others following possessions.

     Alabama, with the ball back with 5:24 remaining, took only just a little over two minutes to score once again. This time on a big pass play from McCarron to Amari Cooper that went 45 yards for a TD to give the Tide a 32-28 lead with 3:15 remaining. Georgia again would need an answer to Alabama's scoring drive, yet they were held to another 3 & out, giving the ball right back to the Tide.

   Georgia now needed to prevent Alabama from getting a 1st down or else there would not be enough time for them to get the ball back. The Bulldogs succeeded, though in the process burnt all of the their timeouts, and would get one last chance to win the game with just 1:08 remaining. After an interception was overturned that would have ended the game, The Bulldogs hit three huge passing plays. Taking them all the way down to the Alabama 8 yard line. With Georgia hurrying downfield to get a play off, Murray threw a pass that was defelected, which receiver Chris Conley came up with an ill-advised catch at the five. Instead of letting the pass fall incomplete and stopping the clock to give the Bulldogs once last chance, Conley's reception allowed the clock to continue moving as time would run out. Both on the game, and Georgia's chance at a National Championship.

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