Football shocks Georgia, wins second straight SEC Championship


Lexi Hall

Quarterback Bryce Young flicks a pass during Saturday’s win over Georgia.

Ashlee Woods | @ashleemwoods, Sports Editor

The underdogs taught the top dawgs how to behave. 

The Alabama football team defeated the Georgia Bulldogs, 41-24, in the 2021 SEC championship game. Alabama improves to 12-1 on the season. 

This matchup was highly-anticipated all season. The top-ranked Bulldogs looked to win their first SEC championship since 2017. Alabama looked to win their second straight and punch their ticket into the College Football Playoffs. 

The expectation was for Georgia to steamroll the Crimson Tide. Georgia came into the game as a 6.5 point favorite. It was the first time in six seasons Alabama wasn’t favored. Several college football analysts and fans predicted the Bulldogs to dominate the Crimson Tide just like they have been doing to other opponents all season. 

“I see no path of victory for Alabama, it’s almost impossible,” said Ari Wasserman, senior writer for The Athletic. 

At first, it looked like the general consensus was right. Alabama was forced to punt on their first two offensive possessions. Georgia scored twice — a field goal and touchdown — on two of their first three drives. 

By the second quarter, Alabama’s offense ran only 12 plays for 46 yards. 

But, suddenly, everything clicked for the Crimson Tide. 

“I think we all stepped up, and we all answered the bell,” said Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. “We all understood what was at stake. We all understood that we needed to step up.” 

After Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV connected with tight end Darnell Washington for the touchdown early in the second quarter, Young responded with a touchdown pass of his own. 

Young connected with wide receiver Jameson Williams for the 67-yard score. After a successful PAT, the Crimson Tide had cut Georgia’s lead down to just three points. 

That drive was the catalyst for Alabama. 

Alabama’s defense forced back-to-back three-and-outs. Defensive back Brian Branch broke up a second-down pass to tight end Brock Bowers on Georgia’s fourth drive of the game. Linebacker Dallas Turner hurried Bennett and forced an incompletion the following play. 

Meanwhile, Alabama took the lead. 

Starting at their own 20, Alabama drove 80 yards down the field to go up 14-10 midway through the second quarter. Two big passes to wide receiver John Metchie III — a 40-yard pass on the second play of the drive and a 13-yard touchdown score — fueled the drive.

From the secondary to the offensive line, Alabama looked like a complete team. In fact, the offensive line was a reason why the offense found its rhythm.

Last week, against Auburn, Alabama gave up five sacks within the first thirty minutes of the game. Young constantly had pressure in his face last Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium. 

This week, Alabama’s offensive line held the top-ranked defense to zero sacks. 

“I think the offensive line really answered the challenge that we put to them in terms of them being more physical in this game,” said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. “They probably prepared a little better than I’ve ever seen them all season long in terms of studying the guys they had to block and the things they had to do.” 

Just like the game against New Mexico State, Alabama’s offensive line gave Young time to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers. Alabama found a rhythm on offense and took advantage of every opportunity. 

At halftime, Alabama gained 248 yards against a team that has allowed an average of only 152.0 passing yards a game. 

Alabama also had a 24-17 lead, the first time they’ve led at the half against Georgia in the last three meetings. 

Georgia desperately needed to get the momentum back on their side. Stopping Alabama on their first offensive drive of the second half would be just what the doctor ordered. 

Unfortunately for Georgia, that didn’t happen. 

Young completed a 55-yard touchdown pass to Williams to put the Crimson Tide up 31-14.

Down 17, the Bulldogs needed a response to keep the game within reach. However, Bennett did the one thing he couldn’t do against Alabama. 

He turned the ball over. 

Alabama defensive back DeMarcco Hellams intercepted Bennett on Georgia’s opening offensive drive of the second half. The Crimson Tide now had a prime opportunity to put the game away. 

The Georgia defense forced Alabama to punt for the first time in four drives. With a defensive hold, Georgia had an opportunity to cut into Alabama’s lead. 

Bennett drove the Bulldogs offense down to the Alabama 19 yard line. On a 4th-and-9 play, Bennett was hurried by Alabama defensive back Jordan Battle. That forced an incompletion. 

It was a turnover on downs to end the third quarter. 

Fortunately for Georgia fans, Alabama punted again on their next possession. 

Unfortunately for Georgia fans, Bennett had his second turnover of the game. This time, it was a pick-six. Battle intercepted Bennett and returned it 42 yards for the score. 

Alabama now led 38-17 with 11:59 left in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs needed something to get back into this game. 

That, for Georgia, came in the form of tight end Brock Bowers. 

Bennett completed three passes to Bowers on Georgia’s next offensive drive. The third was an 18-yard touchdown pass to cut Alabama’s lead to 14. 

Alabama responded with a successful field goal by place-kicker Will Reichard two drives later. 

With just under two minutes left on the clock, Georgia needed a quick score and an onside kick to have a chance. 

Georgia got to their own 38-yard line. That’s where their SEC title hopes halted. A drop by Bowers on fourth down slammed the door on the Bulldogs staying undefeated. 

Alabama kneeled on the final play of the game. 

Alabama players rushed the field. The surplus of Georgia fans had cleared the stadium. The clock hit triple zeroes. The Crimson Tide became the 2021 SEC Champions. 

“I’m extremely proud of our coaching staff, our players, the entire organization,” Saban said. “We’ve probably had to overcome more adversity than this team has had to endure and have more resiliency from a competitive standpoint than probably most of the teams we’ve ever had.” 

Alabama will now wait to see which of the New Years’ Six games they will be placed in.