Written by Cooper Ray
Monday night was a bucket list destination for many Georgia football fans. With UGA’s last championship coming in 1980, fans were foaming at the mouth to take down the powerhouse program Alabama and claim national bragging rights.
And it looked as if they would do so early in the first half. With Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos missing a field goal early, Georgia gained all the momentum from that point on. The Dawgs were barking early when they drove down field and put up the first points of the game, a field goal by Rodrigo “Hot Rod” Blankenship. He also kicked another minutes after, putting the Bulldogs up 6-0.
Georgia’s defense held strong the entire first half not allowing Alabama to score one point. And Georgia’s offense along with freshman sensation Jake Fromm took advantage of the success their fellow teammates were having on defense. Mecole Hardman scored a 1-yard option run to help the bulldogs go up 13-0. This is where the first half came to a close.
This is a sight many Alabama fans had never seen before, and many were calling for Jalen Hurts, who struggled mightily in the first half, to be benched. But who was Bama’s 2nd string Quarterback? Was he even good? No one in Mercedes Benz Stadium, or the United States, expected to see what they saw in the 2nd half.
Jalen Hurts had been benched by Nick Saban, and in emerged true-freshman Tua Tagovailoa. Seeing only mop up snaps the whole season, no one expected Tagovailoa to perform the way in which he did. He entered the game and led the Tide to an eventual game deciding touchdown. Georgia fans were now in awe. How did he just do that? Who is he? Probably every Bulldog fan after Tua’s first TD pass.
From that point on, Alabama’s defense stepped up bigtime and answered the call of head coach Nick Saban. Only allowing 7 points the whole second half, Alabama’s defense performed well enough to let true freshman Tua Tagovailoa lead his team back to a 20-20 score against the Bulldogs.
The Tide was rolling. Georgia then could do nothing with the ball and had to punt the ball back to Alabama, who everyone thought would for sure win the game in the final moments of the game, And they had an opportunity to with 3 seconds left on the game clock. Pappanastos was called on once again to kick a field goal after missing one earlier in the night. Many Georgia fans felt as if their miracle season was going to end like this, an easy field goal. Their season was over in the eyes of many Georgia fans. The snap was clean along with the hold, but the kick was terrible.
Pappanastos had missed once again, which forced overtime. And Georgia would get the ball first. After trying to run the ball twice up the middle, Bama’s defense had forced a 3rd and 5. Jake Fromm received the snap, and overthrew his checkdown D’andre Swift. It was now 4th and 5. Hot Rod was called on and he did his job, nailing a 51- yard field goal to put the Dawgs up 23-20.
Now it was Roquan Smith and the Bulldog Defense’s turn to stop the Tide for a National Championship. And they looked as if they would on the first snap Tagovailoa took. Davin Bellamy sacked Tagovailoa at midfield to put the tide at 2nd and 26. The next snap is when Tagovailoa broke the hearts of Dawg fans everywhere. A touchdown pass to Devonta Smith ended the Bulldogs season, and in heartbreak fashion.
Kirby Smart and Mel Tucker were 3 points away from knocking off former employer Nick Saban, and they would have been the first former assistants of Saban to do so. But, they couldn’t pull it off.
Congratulations to The Alabama Crimson Tide and Tua Tagovailoa, great win. And to the Bulldogs, there is going to be a next year. And I will call it right this moment. Georgia vs. Bama 2019 National Championship. Dawgs 28, Bama 21. Go Dawgs.