Sports

Notebook: Alabama struggled to turn red zone trips into TD

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Alabama had plenty of chances on Monday – but rarely turned those opportunities into touchdowns.

The Crimson Tide settled for field goals on three of four trips to the red zone and scored their only touchdown on a 16-yard run after a fumble from Georgia. A blocked field goal prevented Alabama from adding points after a 17-game practice that was nearly eight minutes behind in the third quarter.

Alabama were looking to extend a 9-6 lead when coach Nick Saban sent Will Reichard onto the pitch late in the third quarter. But the blocked kick changed everything.

Jalen Carter partially blocked it. On the next play, Georgian running back James Cook broke free for a 67-yard run. Zamir White scored the go-ahead three games later, and Alabama spent the rest of the game scrambling.

Georgia, number 3, won the game 33-18 for their first national title in 41 years.

“It’s on me,” said quarterback Bryce Young. “We just weren’t able to perform and finish the way we wanted. “

SMART KEEPING SIMPLICITY ON DEFENSE

Georgian coach Kirby Smart kept it simple on Monday night.

After struggling to stop Alabama in the SEC Championship game last month, he took a different approach. He wanted his high school to play more man-to-man and vowed to rotate the defensive linemen so they could put pressure on Young.

It worked perfectly. Georgia’s strong defense returned to form and ultimately toppled an old nemesis by beating the Crimson Tide 33-18 to win their first National Championship in 41 years.

“We felt if we could get off the pitch on the third try, we would be fresher,” said Smart. “We really focused on playing man to man and doing it better than them. and these guys really bought into that.

Smart’s plan was to simplify the covers and wanted his high school to challenge the understaffed receiving body of Alabama who took another big hit in the first half when Jameson Williams left with what appeared to be a left knee injury.

The Bulldogs (14-1) responded by keeping Alabama out of the end zone for most of the game and they were also important when they were in play.

It was all on purpose after hearing critics claim that the Bulldogs weren’t conditioned enough to trade punches with Alabama’s quick offense.

This time, however, they withstood the punches just long enough until the offense was synchronized.

“The defense kept us in this game as we stumbled on our own feet in the first half,” said quarterback Stetson Bennett IV. “They won this game.”

THE CLOSURE

Kelee Ringo could have made the game safe by taking a knee after knocking out Young in the dying minutes. Instead, he saw an opening, ran onto the field and scored on the longest interception return in league game history.

The 79-yard score sealed the victory. However, Smart did not care about security. He wanted Ringo to do the play.

And Bennett didn’t even bother to watch Ringo run towards the goal line.

“I thought he fell as soon as he caught it,” Bennett said as he burst into tears on the sidelines.

WARM WELCOME

Georgia fans were all over downtown Indianapolis on Monday and dominated the stands inside Lucas Oil Stadium.

How obvious was that? When Bulldogs fans celebrated their traditional celebration with camera lights ahead of the fourth quarter, most of the stadium lit up.

But Smart knew there was a disparity even before Monday.

“Everywhere we’ve been in Indy we’ve seen our people,” Smart said. “People told me it would be 60-40. It was like 70-30.

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More AP College Football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll


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