By RALPH D. RUSSO
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Confetti rained down on Georgia. The Bulldogs fans chanted “Kir-by, Kir-by!”
Four decades of pent-up emotion were unleashed Monday night as the Bulldogs snapped a frustrating national championship drought by vanquishing their nemesis.
Stetson Bennett delivered the biggest throws of his storybook career and Georgia’s defense sealed the sweetest victory in program history, beating Alabama 33-18 in the College Football Playoff for its first title in 41 years.
“I’ve never been around a group of players that really wanted it so bad and wouldn’t be denied,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “I told the guys in the locker room, just take a picture of this.”
Smart, a Bulldogs defensive back in the mid-1990s, returned to his alma mater in 2016 after helping Nick Saban build a dynasty as an assistant at Alabama.
Georgia has become an elite program under Smart, but has not been able to chase down its Southeastern Conference rival.
“This was for all the glory, we took it,” defensive tackle Jordan Davis said.
And they did it the way Alabama has broken their hearts so many times in recent years: Coming from behind and finishing with a flourish.
Bennett connected with Adonai Mitchell on a 40-yard touchdown to give No. 3 Georgia a 19-18 lead with 8:09 left and then hooked up with Brock Bowers for a 15-yard TD on a screen to put the Bulldogs up eight with with 3:33 left.
The final blow came from Georgia’s dominant defense. Kelee Ringo intercepted an underthrown deep ball down the sideline by Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young.
“I just saw the ball in his hands and that was all she wrote,” said safety Lewis Cine, the game’s defensive MVP.
With just over a minute left, Ringo took off behind a convoy of blockers and went 79 yards, Smart chasing and yelling at him to go down so he wouldn’t risk a fumble. The touchdown set off a wild celebration by the relieved Georgia fans who packed Lucas Oil Stadium.
“There’s going to be some property torn up in Indianapolis tonight,” Smart said, paraphrasing the late Georgia play-by-play man Larry Munson.
The Bulldogs (14-1) hadn’t won a national title since freshman Herschel Walker led them there in 1980. If simply snapping the drought wasn’t good enough, doing it against No. 1 Alabama (13-2) made it even better.
“I cried, so pretty good,” Bennett said when asked how it felt.
Saban’s Tide had won seven straight against the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs lost two SEC championship games, including one five weeks ago, and the 2018 CFP title game to Alabama under Smart.
“I told them we burned the boats. The only way home was through them,” Smart said.
Bennett, the former walk-on turned starter, finished 17 for 26 for 224 yards and no interceptions.
For most of the first three quarters, the first CFP title game to be a rematch of a regular-season game was an ol’ fashion SEC defensive struggle in the heart of Big Ten country.
The first touchdown came with 1:20 left in the third quarter. After James Cook broke …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Sports
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