No. 1 Alabama Football Wins SEC Championship Game with 35-28 Comeback Win over No. 4 Georgia
Down by 14 points at different points in the second and third quarter, the No. 1 Alabama football team stormed back to a 35-28 win over No. 4 Georgia in the 2018 Southeastern Conference Championship Game Saturday in Atlanta, Ga.
Subbing for sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who was sidelined early in the fourth quarter with an injury, junior Jalen Hurts led a pair of fourth-quarter scoring drives for the win.
Junior running back Josh Jacobs was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after accounting for the Tide’s first two touchdowns and leading Alabama’s rushing attack with 83 yards on eight carries. Freshman wide receiver Jaylen Waddle led all receivers with 113 yards and a touchdown.
Tagovailoa was 10-for-25 passing with two interceptions, 164 yards and a touchdown, while Hurts finished 7-of-9 passing for 82 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for the deciding score, capping a 28-yard effort on the ground in five attempts.
After giving up 21 points in the first half, the Crimson Tide defense clamped down in the second half, holding the Bulldogs to a single touchdown early in the third quarter. Junior defensive back Saivion Smith led all tacklers with a career-best 11, including eight solo stops. It was the second-most tackles by an Alabama player in an SEC Championship Game. Junior defensive back Deionte Thompson and redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Quinnen Williams each had eight tackles. Williams came up with a sack and two tackles for loss as well.
Neither team scored on their opening two drives to begin the game. The Bulldogs struck first with a 20-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter.
Alabama answered on its ensuing drive when Jacobs rolled into the end zone from a yard out on the first play of the second quarter, evening the score at 7-7 following the extra point from redshirt freshman Joseph Bulovas with 14:50 left in the opening half. The eight-play, 75-yard drive began with 3:08 remaining in the first quarter and was highlighted by a 23-yard catch-and-run from Tagovailoa to sophomore wide receiver Henry Ruggs III to move the ball into Bulldog territory.
Georgia scored twice in the second quarter. The first came on a nine-yard rushing touchdown that capped a 13-play, 74-yard drive, while the second was an 11-yard touchdown reception that finished off a six-play, 51-yard drive to put the score at 21-7 with 4:05 left in the half.
After rumbling 59-yards on the first play of the ensuing Tide drive, Jacobs bulled his way toward to the goal line two plays later from one yard out before the ball came out and squirted into the end zone, where Jacobs gathered it in for the touchdown. Bulovas’ extra point pulled the Tide within seven points with 2:18 left in the half.
The Alabama defense closed the half by forcing a UGA punt as time expired.
Following a three-and-out on the Tide’s first possession of the second half, Georgia extended its lead, going 51 yards in three plays to go back up by two touchdowns, 28-14, with 12:39 left in the third quarter.
After Georgia missed a 30-yard field goal, Tagovailoa found freshman Jaylen Waddle for a 51-yard touchdown pass to trim the lead to 28-21 after the Bulovas’ extra point. The play capped a four-play, 72-yard drive that took just 1:29 off the clock.
Alabama then tied the game on a 16-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. Hurts came in early in the drive following Tagovailoa’s as injury and proceeded to drive the Tide down the field. The touchdown came on a third-down-and-10 when Hurts scrambled out of the pocket and hit sophomore wide receiver Jerry Jeudy in the end zone for the score.
After a Georgia fake punt failed to gain the first down, Hurts once again took the Tide down the field starting on its own 48-yard line. After a pair of completions of more than 15 yards moved the ball into the red zone, Hurts raced 15 yards for the touchdown.
With 57 seconds left in the game, Alabama’s defense closed out the game by batting down a pair of shots at the end zone, securing the victory.