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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Georgia scored a touchdown in the last minute of the game to defeat Ohio State and go to the semifinals

The Georgia Bulldogs seemed practically defeated, as they did for the majority of Saturday night.

Georgia led Ohio State by one point when Adonai Mitchell caught a touchdown pass in the last minute of the Peach Bowl, one of the College Football Playoff’s quarterfinal contests. The fourth-seeded Buckeyes, who snuck into the playoffs after a disastrous defeat to Michigan, were at the line of scrimmage and set to attempt a field goal to win.

The perpetual clock was approaching midnight Eastern time and the year 2023’s beginning. The clock that counted here, though, read eight seconds, and the uprights were 50 yards out, a harsh distance that threatened to make one side a contender for the title and the other an afterthought.

The snap arrived. The ball went wide to the left when Noah Ruggles swung his right leg. The success of the comeback experience — and it was certainly an anguish for the 79,330 people inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta — would be Georgia’s alone. The Bulldogs prevailed by a score of 42-41 to proceed to the national championship game against No. 3 Texas Christian, who defeated No. 2 Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl.

“We didn’t play our greatest football game – a lot of it was due to Ohio State,” said Georgia head coach Kirby Smart. “If we want to win a national championship, we need to play a lot better football than we did today.”

Indeed, the Bulldogs, as well as the Horned Frogs of TCU, have plenty to ponder before to their January 9 showdown in California. Perhaps most immediately, Georgia will need to determine where and how their renowned defence, which entered the Peach Bowl allowing opponents around 292 yards per game, failed to the extent that it allowed 467.

Of course, Ohio State brought a fearsome offence to Atlanta, with C.J. Stroud, a two-time Heisman Trophy contender, at quarterback and Marvin Harrison Jr., a magician receiver, all too eager to make any given play material for a hype film at the Horseshoe next season. This attack threatened to eliminate top-seeded Georgia and terminate its quest to become the first back-to-back champion in postseason history for the most of the evening.

Georgia was not exactly taken off guard. Its players and coaches had proclaimed how formidable Ohio State might be and how the Buckeyes’ defeat to Michigan was hardly a condemnation.

The No. 3 seeded Bulldogs, who won the championship last season, had seen the tape. They had investigated the team’s routines and tells. They had confidence and a home-field edge. Even yet, it did not take the Buckeyes long to create pandemonium.

Georgia’s failed 47-yard field goal on its first possession did not help. The Buckeyes recovered the ball, and Stroud completed a 24-yard throw to Harrison to advance Ohio State into Georgia territory. Later, Stroud snapped the ball, and Harrison swept, no, pushed across the field and grabbed a touchdown pass.

The Bulldogs responded with a score through a fast pass from quarterback Stetson Bennett to wide receiver Kenny McIntosh, but found themselves behind 21-7 early in the second quarter due in part to their own errors. Bennett, himself a Heisman nominee, had thrown an interception that contributed to an Ohio State touchdown, and Atlanta, Athens, Norcross, and Waycross were on edge.

In this particular period, Georgia supporters are not used to trailing by any margin, much alone double digits.

Georgia trailed by four points at halftime, but finally mounted a comeback with less than nine minutes remaining.

Bennett discovered Arian Smith running alone up the field after a fruitless Ohio State drive. Smith’s foot touched the playoff logo at the Ohio State 25 as the p ass came. He may have slowed down somewhat as no Ohio State defender was near enough to attempt a tackle.

Ohio State’s Ruggles answered to the score with a 48-yard field goal. Georgia, the defending champion, trailed Atlanta by 6 points with 2 minutes and 43 seconds remaining.

This was not a game in which many supporters left. The stadium, in which Georgia had defeated two opponents this season, remained saturated with crimson, scarlet, and shrillness. They were quite certain that the Peach Bowl would be much superior than the Peach Drop, a local New Year’s Eve event.

The Bulldogs made their way deep into Ohio State territory. On second-and-5, the ball lay on the 10-yard line as the greatest audience in the history of the stadium roared as if championship hopes hinged on the next minute, which they did.

Mitchell lined up on Georgia’s sideline and took off as Bennett fell down. Mitchell sped by a defender and cut toward the field’s centre. Bennett passed. Now in the end zone, Mitchell retreated to his sideline. The band of Georgia loomed close.

He scored a touchdown. Jack Podlesny’s extra point gave his team a 42-41 advantage.

54 seconds remained for Ohio State’s last drive. Stroud’s 27-yard scramble immensely aided the Ohio State Buckeyes in reaching the Georgia 32.

Bennett said, “After doing our duties, we had faith in the defence.” “At that point, I suppose it came down to the clincher.”

In actuality, it was up to the Ohio State kicker.

Ruggles was introduced. Midnight drew near. He took a shot.

He and Ohio State only received suffering.

Dan O'Brien
Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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