ATLANTA — The Georgia Bulldogs were hoping the chaos of the final seconds would lead to Alabama's demise in Saturday's SEC championship game, but the plan backfired.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray connected with tight end Arthur Lynch for a 26-yard gain to Alabama's 8-yard line with 15 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs did not have any timeouts, and they chose to run a play without spiking the ball to stop the clock.
"We didn't want them to be able to change their personnel," Bulldogs receiver Chris Conley said. "We wanted to keep what we had going."
Several seconds ticked off before Murray got the snap and attempted a fade route to Malcolm Mitchell, but the ball was tipped at the line and caught by Conley at the 5. Time ran out, and jubilant Alabama players ran out on the field to celebrate their 32-28 victory.
"They were kind of on the ropes," Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said, "and we were trying to hurry up and get a play called and throw it in the end zone, but it just didn't happen. There was some confusion in us lining up. There was a fade on either side of the end zone, and the frustrating thing is it took us too long to snap the ball."
Said Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner: "I'm glad they didn't spike it, because they let the clock run out."
Conley admitted there was uncertainty before the final snap, and he couldn't believe the ball came to him.
"It sort of landed right there in my lap, and instinct is to grab it when I should have let it go," Conley said. "I was kind of in shock. I thought we had more time with that, and the ball landing ending up in my hands sort of shocked me as well. It was not a great feeling to be so close."
Historic Tide tandem
Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon became the first Alabama tailback tandem to go over 1,000 rushing yards in the same season.
Lacy reached the milestone last week against Auburn and added 181 yards against the Bulldogs to earn title-game MVP honors and give the junior 1,182 for the year. Yeldon entered Saturday needing 153 yards and did just that, giving the freshman 1,000.
"The offensive line made big holes for T.J. and me," Lacy said, "and we were able to hit them for big gains."
Murray did not win the biggest game of his career, but the redshirt junior went a long way in shedding his knack for struggling when the lights are brightest. He completed 18 of 33 passes for 265 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and he came within 5 yards of delivering the Bulldogs their biggest win in three decades.
"There is going to be criticism at that position," Bobo said, "but I think he's handled it well his whole career. He has given it his all for the University of Georgia, and he is a winner."
Murray said he missed some throws throughout the game that he should have hit but added, "You can't say we didn't play our hearts out for 60 minutes."
Alabama won its 23rd SEC championship and has 27 titles overall, having won four Southern Conference titles from 1924 to '30. ... The Crimson Tide rushed for 350 yards and improved to 48-0 since the start of the 2008 season when rushing for more than 150 yards. ... The Tide's 10 first-half points were their fewest this season. ... Defensive linemen Ed Stinson and Jesse Williams were helped off the field with injuries, but each returned.
Georgia tailback Todd Gurley had 122 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, and his 15 touchdowns this season match the number Herschel Walker had as a freshman in 1980. ... Tavarres King had his sixth career 100-yard game with 142 yards on five catches. ... Junior outside linebacker Jarvis Jones tallied two sacks, giving him 12.5 this season. ... Junior inside linebacker Alec Ogletree had 11 tackles and has 98 this season despite missing the first four games due to suspension. ... The 16-yard pass from tight end Lynch to Sanders Commings on the first play of the second quarter was Georgia's first converted fake punt since punter Gordon Ely-Kelso ran 34 yards against Kentucky in 2005. ... Freshman punter Collin Barber averaged 44.8 yards on six attempts and placed two inside the Tide 20.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...