It wasn’t easy but Georgia just locked up the SEC East by beating Auburn 21-14 on The Plains.

The Bulldogs entered the fourth quarter in complete control of this game up 21-0 but Auburn caught fire in the final stanza of the game, forcing Kirby Smart’s defense to make two stands to win the game. After Auburn ripped off consecutive touchdown drives, Georgia stopped the Tigers on downs in back-to-back drives to end the game.

Following the close call, Smart was asked about the statement his team made by going on the road and beating the Tigers.

“We made a statement that we didn’t stop them on the last two or three drives,” Smart noted. “I mean, you have to finish teams off. Played really well early, lost our composure and didn’t finish the way we needed to.”

Here’s what Smart had to say when asked which players stepped up for the Bulldogs on Saturday.

“Travon Walker made some big plays at the end, a lot of these young kids starting to grow up,” the Georgia coach added. “We have got to continue to grow, continue to play, get better, make plays when we get a chance on offense.”

Finally, on how difficult it is to win at Auburn — the Tigers were undefeated at home leading up to this game — Smart praised the Auburn crowd and his team.

“Look guys, that team is a really good football team and you are playing them at their place, one of the toughest places to play in the country,” Smart said. “Got a lot of respect for their football team and a lot of respect for ours.”

Next weekend, Georgia returns to Athens to finish up its SEC schedule against Texas A&M. Win or lose, however, the Bulldogs are headed to Atlanta for the third consecutive season under Smart’s leadership.