Rapid Reaction: Jack Podlesny kicks Cincinnati to curb with game-winning FG in Peach Bowl
Georgia kicked all of its 2020 troubles to the curb Friday.
Jack Podlensy drilled a 53-yard game-winning field goal to rally the Bulldogs to an improbable 24-21 victory over previously-undefeated Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl.
Everything about the drive seemed unlikely.
Opt-outs certainly impacted Georgia’s execution, and especially its running game, but excuses are for the losing team. Fortunately, Georgia doesn’t have to use them.
JT Daniels threw for 392 yards and a TD. George Pickens had another 100-yard day, and the TD catch. So Georgia’s offense made plays even without some of its stars.
Georgia’s defense got a critical stop in the final 2 minutes to give the offense one last chance. Daniels drove the Dawgs into position, and Podlesny delivered a game-winning kick.
— Saturday Down South (@SDS) January 1, 2021
It was a struggle all day.
The Bearcats scored first with just over 4 and a half minutes to go in the 1st quarter. They took advantage of a short field following a shanked punt by Jake Camarda as a short drive was capped by a Desmond Ridder scoring pass to Alec Pierce to make it 7-0.
Georgia appeared to be on its way to striking back immediately after a terrific diving catch by George Pickens and a run by Zamir White to push it to the red zone, but an end-zone interception by JT Daniels eventually saw the Bearcats take over at the 1-yard line. The Dawgs, though, forced a 3-and-out, and after being handed great field position themselves, Daniels connected with Darnell Washington to get them in striking range before he found Pickens on back-to-back plays as Georgia pulled level late in the 1st.
With less than 7 minutes remaining before halftime, Cincinnati looked to take a 10-7 lead as a 10-play drive fizzled out at the Georgia 15. But a Cole Smith field goal was tipped at the line by Jordan Davis and the score remained tied.
Daniels connected with Arian Smith to start the ensuing UGA drive with a 55-yard strike to the Bearcats’ 25, but a holding call ultimately meant the Dawgs had to settle for a Jack Podlesny field goal as they took a 10-7 lead with under 4 minutes to go in the half.
Cincinnati, though, built a sustained drive to end the half. And Ridder showed his dynamic skillset to find Josh Whyle with 6 seconds left as the tight end dove to make a pretty catch in the end zone, and the Bearcats took a 14-10 lead into the locker room.
Trailing at the half with the Bearcats getting the ball to start the 3rd, the Dawgs defense needed to set an early tone. But on the 2nd play of scrimmage, Jerome Ford took it 79 yards to the house as Georgia suddenly faced a 21-10 deficit.
Cincinnati had a few chances to land a final damaging blow in this one, but Georgia held firm after giving up the big Ford touchdown run to open the half by forcing back-to-back punts. Its offense, though, failed to answer the bell itself, but a Ridder fumble early in the 4th quarter put the Dawgs in business as the Bearcats 25. Two plays later, White was in the end zone, but the ensuing 2-point conversion failed as the Bearcats lead shrunk to 21-16 with just under 13 and a half minutes remaining in regulation.
Georgia found itself in striking distance of the end zone again on its next drive but was forced to settle for a field goal to pull within 21-19 with less than 7 minutes left.
It wasn’t pretty. But the Dawgs found a way to celebrate in the end.