Georgia’s final drive ends agonizingly short




The drive of his dreams turned into a nightmare.

Aaron Murray, Georgia’s quarterback, got the ball back one last time with 1:08 to play in the SEC Championship game, 85 yards to go for a game-winning, stuff-of-legend touchdown. Improbably, he got the Bulldogs 80 yards of the way. But there it ended, Georgia 5 yards short of a berth in the national championship game when the clock turned to all zeroes and Alabama began celebrating a 32-28 victory.

“To be (so close) to making probably one of the greatest comebacks in Georgia history, it stinks (to fall short),” Murray said.

“That’s something you dream of as a little kid, to win the game like that. And it’s just (awful) the way it ended, that’s for sure,” he added.

On the game’s last play, according to Murray and Georgia coach Mark Richt, Murray was attempting to throw to wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell in the back of the right end zone. The ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage and landed in the hands of receiver Chris Conley, who was stopped short of the end zone — a worse scenario for Georgia than an incomplete pass, which  would have permitted time for another play.

Georgia had no timeouts remaining, and the final few seconds ticked off the clock after Conley’s catch.

Georgia’s final drive started at its own 15-yard line after an Alabama punt, the Crimson Tide leading by four points. The drive seemed to end on the fourth play, when officials on the field ruled a Murray pass intercepted. But after a review overturned the call, changing it to an incomplete pass because the ball had hit the ground, Murray completed passes on the next three plays — 15 yards to Arthur Lynch, 23 yards to Tavarres King, 26 yards over the middle to Lynch.

“Arte did a good job of hitting his landmark,” Richt said of the 26-yarder to Lynch, “and Murray did a good job of stepping up and putting it on him.”

That put the ball at the Alabama 8-yard line with nine seconds left on the clock. Richt vehemently defended his decision to run a hurry-up play at that point, rather than to spike the ball.

“You don’t spike the ball there,” he said. “We had the play we wanted. It takes time to spike the ball, and we’re thinking about maybe (getting) three plays there.

“The clock stopped for the first down (on Lynch’s catch) while we were getting to the line of scrimmage,” Richt said. “We called a play. We called a play we call ‘stout.’ It’s a fade by the outside receiver and a four-step speed-out by the inside receiver. We were attempting to throw the ball to the outside receiver. The ball got batted and just landed, unfortunately, right in the arms of our … inside receiver. Not a good thing, with no timeouts.

“We run that (inside) route because a lot of times … it grabs the attention of the cornerback … and hopefully gets the corner to think the ball might be going to the inside receiver. And then you throw it over the top. We were taking a shot. Again, the ball got batted. So what can you do?”

The play wound up as a 3-yard completion to Conley — surely the most disappointing pass completion of Murray’s quarterbacking career or Richt’s coaching career.

“Someone asked me just a second ago what I thought the difference was (in the game),” Richt said. “All I could think of was, we just ran out of time.”

“They could have won just as soon as us,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “It came right down to the last play.”

COMPLETE COVERAGE OF SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:

Game story: Alabama delivers BCS knockout of Georgia, 32-28

Bradley column: Five yards short in bitter defeat a winning UGA effort

Schultz column: Georgia earns respect in defeat, but loss not easy to take

The final drive and play: An agonizing ending for Georgia

What they said: post-game comments from players, coaches on both teams

Notebook: Saban believes Georgia deserves a BCS bowl

105 comments Add your comment

Strat Cat Dawg

December 1st, 2012
10:17 pm

Dawg fans feel the pain but we should be proud of our team. If you have any class, don’t blame Murray, the coaches, or Conley. They gave us everything and we just fell a few yards and a couple of seconds short.

01HAWK

December 1st, 2012
10:19 pm

ROLL TIDE ROLL

warlaw

December 1st, 2012
10:21 pm

A very bitter pill to swallow, but the entire team can hold their heads up high. They battled for 60 minutes, but needed 60 + 5 more seconds. What a way to lose. I felt all night that it would come down to the last possession, whoever had the ball last would win. I was wrong…but clearly there is not a gram of difference between these teams and it is nothing to be ashamed of to lose to them. Dang it…so we go on to next year with a great nucleus and a huge freshman class. Keep the dogs in the fight for national relevance and a championship will come to Athens.

richt's Butt Cut

December 1st, 2012
10:24 pm

Proud of the effort but….. SPIKE THE DAMN BALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RJ

December 1st, 2012
10:27 pm

Congrats to our team for playing to the end and to Bama for the win. I hope we see some class from the Bama bloggers.

ugagolf80

December 1st, 2012
10:31 pm

look-Nick Satan told the truth-either team could have won-did they gash us in the 3rd qtr-yes-but Bama couldnt stop us either-we got double the yards that they normally give up. they tipped a pass and it fell in our receivers lap in bounds-bad luck.if we spiked it and they had a chance to prepare theres no guarantee we get a TD-a helluva game on both sides-one unlucky tip and the clock ran out-its as simple as that.

T.Earl

December 1st, 2012
10:33 pm

Great game, somebody had to win and I wish it would have been our Dawgs. The players did a GREAT job and represented the state’s flagship university with pride and a great effort.

NOW, can we move on to our 2nd favorite past time of calling for Mike Bobo’s job? Just kidding, but really does our current defensive players really want to leave school without an education or a national championship? Come on guys! Buy an insurance policy and play one more year! everyone involved did a great job but I live right outside B’ham and I am SO tired of hearing about how people roll their laundry detergent around over here!

GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!

Jesse

December 1st, 2012
10:36 pm

Murray is good… he’s just not great. They’ll never win it all with him there. He’s great against lesser teams, but struggles against the top teams. They kept it close and had a shot, which is more than I thought they’d do. So at least that was good. It would be nice to see them not drop in the standings as they held their own, and beat UF earlier.

DILLIGAF

December 1st, 2012
10:41 pm

Murray should have made the call and spiked the ball so that the offense could calm down and the coaches could discuss the play. true, Bama’s defense was on their heels and it owuld have given them a chance to regroup but spiking the ball was clearly the thing to do.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda… the Dawgs fought hard on every play. No shame in that.

UGA/85′

Tony

December 1st, 2012
10:47 pm

Richt has no concept of clock management late in the close games. This has been seen over and over again. No excuses – just another classic failure in a big game.

DawgH8ter

December 1st, 2012
10:48 pm

ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!

[...] Schultz column: Georgia earns respect in defeat, but loss not easy to take [...]

Slim

December 1st, 2012
10:51 pm

This one is going to hurt for a long time…Alabama deserves credit for coming back when they were down 21-10 after the blocked field goal. They were down by 11 at the six minute mark of the third quarter and didn’t give up. They scored 22 points in 21 minutes….

[...] Schultz column: Georgia earns respect in defeat, but loss not easy to take [...]

Jon

December 1st, 2012
10:58 pm

What a game. Both teams kept throwing jabs the entire game. Congratz to all the Georgia fans. Georgia played great. Neither team deserved to lose that game. You guys should not be left out of the BCS, in my opinion. Good luck!

Texas Dawg

December 1st, 2012
11:10 pm

I don’t care what CMR says, the smart FOOTBALL play at that point in the game was to spike the ball. I still haven’t heard from him why you wouldn’t spike the ball in that situation. It’s rubbish to say that by not spiking it, it kept Bama from setting up its defense. Really, at that point, who cares if they set up their defense. Our offense would be set, too, and at that spot on the field, I like our offensive weapons to win out over their defensive guys. And, had we spiked the ball and run the same play and the same thing (tipped pass) had happened, we would have had extra time to get up and try to run one final play with about 2 seconds left — or maybe spike it again and then run a play.

By the way, is anyone paying attention to the ACC championship game? Tech is actually making a game of it! Geez!

Texas Dawg

December 1st, 2012
11:15 pm

Well so much for that. Bees lose! Would gloat, but not much fun now after our own loss.

UGA

December 1st, 2012
11:15 pm

One of the best football games I have watched in some time. This was the National Championship game. Even though we came up short, Georgia fans just witnessed a taste of the greater things to come for UGA football. The system and recruiting is in place and things are only going to get better. For it only to be a 4 point margin of victory that was only one a play away from going to the National Championship game, Georgia has earned the right to play in the BCS Sugar Bowl. No one should be hanging their heads after this game. They left it all on the field. Proud of our team, our coaches, and the entire Dawg Nation. Keep your head up Murray, you played a heck of a game. Hope you will return next year. Coach Richt is a class act and is the more focused and determined than I have seen during his career at Georgia. I know where I would go if I were a recruit….UGA. Proud to be a Georgia Bulldog!

slobodan

December 1st, 2012
11:21 pm

Better results than last year; but the dogs still got the ball crammed down their throats in the run game. Don’t much need a Jarvis Jones type pass rusher when all they got to do is hand it off. I don’t understand the dogs method of grab tackling up around the shoulders. The dogs got some good players, but they’re not going to force many fumbles against running backs like Eddie Lacy and TJ Yeldon; they should have been making sure of the tackle instead of grabbing. The only one that was likely to fumble was AJ McCarron; and he was doing nothing but handing off; except for the playaction TD when CB Swann decided not to run with their best WR for some reason.

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can stop it

December 1st, 2012
11:21 pm

All that NFL talent and you give up 500 yards.

Yep, Todd Gratham is so awesome.

Idiots

EagleDawg

December 1st, 2012
11:22 pm

This was the best football game I’ve seen this year.

Disgusted Dawg

December 1st, 2012
11:24 pm

Can Richt step up and admit he made a bonehead call. He should ahve spiked the f-ing ball. These are young players who were clearly puzzled (if not baffled) at the line, including Murray, because time was winding down and Murray wasn’t spiking the f-ing ball. Flat out worst playcall ever. Spike the f-ing ball, regroup, make 2-3 attemps in the end zone, Georgia Touchdown, SEC Championship, MNC, Done. But, no, let’s run down there blow 6 seconds off the clock, hastily throw the ball up and settle for disaster. This is classic Richt, both losing the big one and not admiting to his mistakes.

wayner

December 1st, 2012
11:26 pm

are you crying,ha,ha

GTVET

December 1st, 2012
11:31 pm

Watched most obf the SEC game,and I believe the best team lost…Hell of a try UGA…I was pulling for ya…Good luck in your bowl game…..GO NAVY BEAT ARMY!!!!!!!!!!

Voyager Dawg

December 1st, 2012
11:33 pm

Proud of the Dawgs! They played to the final second. Alabama is a great team and I think Nick Saban showed a lot of class in his post game comments. Georgia is a great team as well. I hope Alabama goes on and kills Notre Dame and Georgia gets some respect from the BCS. Georgia is definitely the second best team in the SEC and a loss at the championship game should not penalize this team in terms of bowl games (even though it most likely will). No Georgia coach, no player, no fan should hang there head over this one. Go Dawgs!

Mark Ellis

December 1st, 2012
11:42 pm

My heart goes out to Dawg fans.
You always seem to come up short when it counts.
Unfortunately with your current coaching staff nothing is going to change…

Spectators

December 1st, 2012
11:47 pm

At first I thought we should have spiked the ball. But it is ridiculous to get hung up on that one play. The fact that our defense held them for us to even get the ball back and for Murray to drive the length of the field in 1 minute with no time outs to potentially win game was remarkable. The bottom line is that Mark Richt earns about $4 million a year for good reason. The media and anyone else who focuses on one play call are spectators at best sitting on the sidelines looking in. Had Murray completed the pass to Mitchell to win the game it would have been considered genius. Until you are actually standing on the sidelines coaching a team in the SEC with all the variables associated with it, you really don’t know what you would have done.

Truth

December 2nd, 2012
12:01 am

Your weak schedule came back to haunt you! Enjoy watching us beat ND for anothe NC….Roll Tide!

flo-ri-duh

December 2nd, 2012
12:03 am

No reason to bad mouth the coaches or the players. They gave every thing they had and I am proud of them. On the other hand the obvious “no calls” the refs let Bama get away with should get some refs fired. That blatant cheap shot helmet to helmet on Murray should have gotten Dial kicked out of the game and Bama moved back 15 yards. Instead thee is a “no call” with the ref standing ten yards away watching the cheap shot. That “no call” resulted in 3 for the Tide. That ref should be reassigned to high school. If it wasn’t for that UGA could have kicked a winning field goal at the end of the game. Hopefully that play will be sent in for revue and Dial will be suspended for the title game.

House Divided

December 2nd, 2012
12:04 am

flo-ri-duh

December 2nd, 2012
12:06 am

Truth – you aren’t a Tide fan you coward. Bama schedule was rated #39 and UGA’s #42 – very little difference. Pricks like you are cowards.

House Divided

December 2nd, 2012
12:08 am

Sorry UGA, the dawg luck seems to run ourt when it comes to the really big wins.

Nate

December 2nd, 2012
12:15 am

9 seconds left? What game were you watching. There were 15 seconds left on the clock when he should’ve spiked it. Richt, Bobo, and Murray deserve each other. Georgia fans deserve better.

House Divided

December 2nd, 2012
12:17 am

Seems Ga’s luck runs out when it comes to the really big plays, and then Richt makes a fool of himself at the end of the press conference instead of turing the tables on the reporter telling him it was a stupid question that he wasn’t going to answer..

The REAL Phil

December 2nd, 2012
12:19 am

The not spiking the ball was done to prevent Alabama from substituting to a dime package. You can debate, if you would like (and have the knowledge and experience needed), the odds of passing into the end zone against a nickel vs. a dime, but it was not clock mismanagement as you bozo’s who wouldn’t know a football from a flying saucer think it was.

Whiznot

December 2nd, 2012
12:22 am

Mark Richt outsmarted himself just like he always does. Spike the ball and have three throws into the end zone. Every receiver must be in the end zone. It’s not rocket science. Sheesh, twelve years and nothing has been learned since the first year Auburn screw up.

Whiznot

December 2nd, 2012
12:26 am

It is especially galling that no matter what he does Mark Richt will never admit he made a mistake. Because Richt never admits he made a mistake he never learns from his mistakes. At home, alone, at night he probably blames God for his own idiocy.

Jimmy

December 2nd, 2012
12:35 am

Phil, are you serious?? Bama WAS in a dime package. They were playing prevent the entire series!!!! You spike the ball so you have two to three shots into the EZ. Do you think that defense was going to be flustered, w/ all the big games they’ve been in?? Get real man. There was no guarantee UGA would have scored even if they had spiked the ball, but they sure did have a much better chance. That was just horrible coaching.

Dawg Gone

December 2nd, 2012
1:07 am

Screw Bama. I won’t pull for those pecker heads when they play ND (won’t pull for ND either). I was so sick and tired of hearing Vern slobbering all over Bama and how great they were.

Offense was off, Bobo didn’t make adjustments, Murray – choke, Defense was out there way too long.

I don’t care about the SEC just my DAWGS! I hope that ND sticks it down Bama’s throat like their daddies do.

Hunker down

December 2nd, 2012
1:19 am

What a amazing game. The game lived up to all the hype. Truly two heavy weights slugging it out. It is a shame that any one had to lose the game because it seemingly was the clock that decided the outcome of the game and both teams were deserving and capable of winning the game. In my mind if the game is 30 seconds longer the Dawgs score and win the game. But give credit to the University of Alabama and not only two premier running backs in the nation, but in my estimation the best offensive
line in the country.
I would not be surprised in years to come this doesn’t become an ESPN Classic game.
Very proud of the Dawgs and their effort!

Hendu

December 2nd, 2012
1:41 am

Sure dissappointed, sure I hope all good fans in our conference pull for Bama over ND.

With the clock ticking from 12 down there had to be a concrete decision and it looks like it was left to Murray. Can’t blame it on a kid but I do want to know where all the coaches were to holler deep or none or, at least, spike it, spike it, spike it.

Murray gets alot of balls tipped anyway and the coaches know this. With the correct trajectory even “Too Tall Jones” doesn’t tip it. Not to mention the TIMEOUT when Bama was 3rd and more than 5 from midfield, the bomb may have been the call already but CMR decided they needed more time to think about it. Bama took that time to decide BOMB. Good pass, good play.

Still, if we like to control our fate, Richt is the man, and we and he really like Bobo, then WITF doesn’t every red and black blooded SOB holler SPIKE IT SPIKE IT SPIKE IT.

From there the full “brain trust” can gather every morsel of their wit and experience and trust the 1 play that even a common idiot like me has in the vault for this occasion. Any coach or want to be has the “IT” play. Gotta run the IT play once before you run two rushed plays of any kind.

Saban gave up points late in 1st half due to clock manage. Richt called a D timeout which haunted him for the last 5 minutes and left him indecisive.

Compare a game of football to the christian bible. Do what you want to with timeouts in the first half but you better make them count in the 2nd half. Continue to pursue and beat your opponent with your fine conditioning, D fundamentals, hustle, and make them call their TO’s. 2nd half TO’s must always be a meeting of the minds or to ice opponent kicker, not real sure if that works.

Bama did not lose focus, we did. Good on them. Whip ND men in arms.

Hendu

December 2nd, 2012
1:42 am

Hell, sorry about that men. I was so long time would have run out on me anyway.

Ace

December 2nd, 2012
2:14 am

1-2 against good teams

50000names

December 2nd, 2012
2:55 am

Either team could have won and I as a Bama fan could not have been upset had GA scored at the end. The Bulldogs played a marvelous game. For those who keep talking about the missed call by the ref-there should have been a flag on Dial for the hit on Murray. But likewise the ref made up a tipped ball call on the pass that would have otherwise led to pass I therefore nice interference call. Anyone watching the replay has to be honest and admit the rotation of the ball did not change in air. I don’t care that it was reviewed by the replay booth. That call was not right. In the end it eas a hard fought game, both coaches made some bad calls, and either team could have won.

madDog

December 2nd, 2012
4:40 am

spike the ball with 15 seconds—set up 3 good plays to the endzone. Alabama couldn’t stop GA’s passing game—Dogs score and win the game. Amazing.

Eric C.

December 2nd, 2012
5:37 am

It’s funny, on one hand, you’ve got Richt saying you don’t spike the ball, and then Bobo says he would spike if he could do it over.

I can see both sides…if the ball isn’t tipped they may have caught Bama off guard just enough to hit Mitchell on the fade route, or still had time for at least one more play if it failed.

If you spike the ball…you could have a chance for 3 plays, but then the Bama D gets to settle in as well. Too bad for the missed 50 yd FG earlier.

jdawg

December 2nd, 2012
6:11 am

They came up short, but hold your heads high Dawgs. Still a great season.

Mark Person

December 2nd, 2012
6:28 am

Not spiking the ball was about as stupid as it gets. If he spikes, it he’s got 13 seconds left and probably three shots to the end zone. Beyond belief!!!

Theoilchannel.com

December 2nd, 2012
6:45 am

UGA = Yawn

December 2nd, 2012
6:49 am

Who writes these articles??? The UGA QB was motioning to the coaching staff to spike the ball!!! That was the correct thing to do. That would have given UGA 2 plays instead of 1. The coaches, on the sideline, must have told him to run that hurried play. The biggest mistake of their lives!!! I for one am happy but for the writer to not catch that is beyond me. To not have played Bama, LSU or A&M in the regular season – the 3 top teams in the SEC – and be in a game where you could make it to the NC game – that may never happen again. I would have to assume future schedules will not even be remotely as easy as this year’s.