Rapid Reaction: Any questions? Alabama remains perfect after pounding Georgia
For a while, it looked as if the Georgia Bulldogs would repeat the result of their last trip to Tuscaloosa, a 26-23 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2007.
But Alabama’s powerful offense, coupled with several untimely errors by Georgia, saw the Tide turn the tables and come away with an 41-24 win at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday night, their 6th consecutive win in the series.
There was plenty of drama off the field before the matchup, and it surrounded Nick Saban. But after a positive coronavirus test in the middle of the week threatened to keep the legendary Tide head football coach off the sideline, he tested negative 3 times in a 72-hour span to clear the way for him to guide his team.
And after an awful defensive showing despite a win against Ole Miss a week ago, his team put up a much better response against the Dawgs as they came up with 3 interceptions of Stetson Bennett IV in their most dominant performance of the season.
In the process, Saban ran his record to 22-0 against his former assistants, beating Kirby Smart for the 3rd time.
Mac Jones threw for 417 yards and 4 touchdowns. Najee Harris ran for 152 yards and a score.
The game got off to an ideal start for Georgia’s defense, as Richard LeCounte made a diving interception of Mac Jones that was held up by replay review. But Alabama got it back seconds later as a tipped pass landed in the hands of a lineman.
Then the potent Tide offense struck for the first time. Najee Harris started with a short run, followed by a 16-yard catch by Jaylen Waddle that the junior came close to taking to the end zone. That set up a 40-yard touchdown pass from Jones to John Metchie III to open the scoring at 7-0.
It was clear from the start that this one was going to start out with a different feel than the shootout between Bama and Georgia as both offenses took a little bit to fully take hold. Thanks to a poor punt by Sam Johnson, though, on Alabama’s next drive, the Dawgs were able to cash in thanks in part to a 24-yard run by Kendall Milton to put them near the red zone. Zamir White later powered his way up the middle for a 10-yard scoring run to finish off the drive as Georgia tied the game at 7.
And on its next possession, Georgia took the lead. James Cook separated himself from his defender and hauled in a bomb from Bennett, an 82-yard catch to make it 14-7 on the opening play of the 2nd quarter. Alabama threatened to retake the lead on a sustained drive that was extended by an Eric Stokes hold on a 3rd-and-long situation, but settled for a 33-yard Will Reichard field goal to draw within 14-10. Jack Podlesny returned the favor with a 50-yarder as the Dawgs’ lead was restored to 7, but the Tide traveled 75 yards in 2½ minutes, a drive that ended with a 17-yard scoring catch by DeVonta Smith to knot things up at 17 with 3 minutes left in the half.
Georgia answered the bell, though. After a 4th-and-inches turned into a 1st-and-goal on an Alabama offsides call, Bennett eventually found Burton in the end zone as the Dawgs took a 24-17 lead. Alabama, though, had just enough time to set Will Reichard up for a 52-yard field goal to make it 24-20.
After a Bulldogs punt, the Crimson Tide appeared to be on its way to another scoring drive, but to its credit, the Georgia defense held. That wasn’t the case on the next Alabama drive, as Jones connected with Waddle for 90 yards as they took a 27-24 lead with 4 minutes left in the 3rd.
The Tide never looked back.
The Dawgs’ next drive was snuffed out as Bennett’s pass over the middle was picked off just short of the end zone by Malachi Moore and taken to the Tide 44.
And Georgia looked to have held Alabama on a 3rd down situation at the 10 yard line, but a pass interference against Stokes set up a 2-yard Harris punch-in as the Tide opened up a 34-24 advantage. Another interception of Bennett after being flushed out of the pocket kept the momentum with the Tide. They made it count with 9½ minutes left as a 10-play drive ended with a brilliant catch at the back of the end zone by Smith to essentially seal a 4th victory of the season for the Tide.