Things started out like we expected for Alabama, they sacked Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm and returned the punt and appeared to be about to score when Tua Tagovalioa made a bad decision that resulted in a sack. On that sack he twisted his ankle and his game went to crap. The next play he threw an interception and Georgia went on to march on Alabama’s defense for 21 points. Alabama’s offense continued to fight but suffered from an unusual rash of dropped passes. It was clear Tua was hurting as he finished the first half with the unthinkable number of 35 yards passing.
Georgia was running an obscene number of plays as well so we had to wonder could Alabama’s defense hang together, especially when you consider how many times the defense was on the sideline by the 4th quarter.
Late in the 2nd quarter trailing 21-7 Josh Jacobs ripped off one of the best runs of the year for 59 yards and finished off for a touchdown a few plays later bringing Alabama within 7. The drive was critical as it appeared Georgia was about to run them out of the stadium.
Tua started to play a little better in the 3rd quarter but for the second time on the day he threw a devastating pick in the red zone. The defense held and Tua finally found his mark when Jaylen Waddle took a pass over the middle and outran the entire Georgia defense for 51 yards. Alabama was still struggling but they were staying in the game.
Then the play Alabama fans have been dreading all season, On an incompletion Tua was stepped on by one of his lineman getting pushed backwards and he crumpled to the turf, clearly he would not be able to continue. If it were any other team they would be done, but Alabama, this particular year had one last hope.
On the field came Jalen Hurts, the young man who stared as a true freshman in 2016 and had a lead in the 4th quarter of the National Championship game, the player who led them back to that same national championship game only to get replaced at halftime by his backup. That guy, who despite the trend in college football stayed with his team even when it meant he wasn’t going to start trotted off the sideline.
Hurts began a slow, methodical drive that ended up 14 plays long and ended with him making a perfect TD strike to Jerry Judy as he was running right from the rush. The score tied the game and for the first time all night the pressure was now on Georgia. Alabama’s defense held again and it was time for Jalen Hurts to slip that glass slipper on and step into Alabama history.
At 3rd and 8 at the 50 yard line Hurts hit Irv Smith for 19 yards to the 31, then he hit Waddle for 16 yards to the 15. On the next play he rolled right, the zone cleared out and he took off. It became clear at about the 10 yards line that Jalen had committed, he was going to the end zone and sliding was not an option. A Georgia defensive back met him at the goal line but Hurts was just too strong and he carried them both into the engine for the first lead of the night.
The defense held Georgia for the final minute and the celebration erupted from the sideline as Fromm’s last pass was tipped away by middle linebacker Mack Wilson.
With the win Alabama wins the 2017 SEC Championship and secures the 1st seed in the playoffs and Jalen Hurts cemented his place in Alabama history. Now they wait to see if they are going to play Oklahoma, or possibly even these very same Georgia Bulldogs.
Defensively there weren’t too many numbers there to write home about but the defensive line in particular showed an enormous amount of grit holding up all night when it looked like they would tire out. Once again LaBryan Ray provided critical support off the bench. When the end came they were able to get pressure with a three man rush ending the Georgia scoring threat for good.
Once again I probably lost a few more years off my life. I for one have had about enough of Georgia and do not want to play them again but that will be the committees decision. Oklahoma certainly has a claim to the spot as well.