ATLANTA — No. 1 Georgia faced defeat for most of the 2022 Peach Bowl before rallying late on for a stunning 42-41 win over No. 4 Ohio State in the College Football Playoff semifinals. The win sends the defending champion Bulldogs to the CFP National Championship where they will face No. 3 TCU on Monday, January 9th in Inglewood, California.
Ohio State kicker Noah Ruggles missed a 50-yard field goal attempt with 3 seconds left after leading the Buckeyes to a potential last-minute game-winning spot after a heroic go-ahead drive by Georgia.
The Buckeyes led 38-24 early in the fourth quarter and had a chance to regain a 2-yard lead with under 4 minutes remaining when the Bulldogs defense came up with a huge stand that forced Ohio State to make it 41-35 with 2:43 remaining.
From there, Georgia Stetson-Bennett IV led a campaign for the ages to keep the Dogs undefeated. Bennett hit Adonai Mitchell for a 10-yard touchdown with 54 seconds remaining to give Georgia its first lead since the second quarter.
Ohio State had two timeouts remaining, enough to get within field goal range. It did just that despite navigating the fourth quarter without the lead of wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., who left late in the third quarter after a big hit in the end zone.
The Buckeyes scored more against the Dawgs than any other team this season, but they ultimately fell short in a daring redemption attempt after an embarrassing loss to Michigan to close out the regular season.
The Silman surrenders.
Stroud outmaneuvered Bennett for much of the night, and was absolutely stunning for Buckeyes with arms and legs. But just when it mattered most, Bennett came up with another storybook moment for his fictional career. The former team, who famously cruised through junior college before returning for a second stint with the Bulldogs, pulled off the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in CFP history.
The Bulldogs outscored Ohio State 18-3 in the last 15 minutes as Bennett completed 10 of 12 passes in the frame. He found Arian Smith wide open for a 76-yard touchdown to make it 38-35 midway through the quarter, then completed 5 of 5 passes on a go-ahead drive that ended with his kick to Mitchell. Bennett finished 23 of 34 for 398 yards with three touchdowns, an interception and a rushing touchdown while earning MVP of the game honors.
Stands huge when it matters most
Georgia entered with the No. 2 scoring defense in the nation, allowing only 12.8 points per game – yet the Buckeyes scored 28 in the first half alone. When the chips were down, Georgia came up with some major stops. Oddly enough, a timeout from Georgia coach Kirby Smart with 8:58 remaining helped save the game for the Dougs.
Facing fourth-and-one at their own 34-yard line, the Buckeyes lined up to punt before executing a successful fake. However, as the play unfolded, it became apparent that Smart had called a timeout before the snap. The Georgia staff had figured out the fake just in time, and the Buckeyes actually elected to play after the timeout.
That was followed by Bennett’s 76-yard strike to Smith on the first play of UGA’s next drive. On Ohio State’s next possession, the Buckeyes faced second-and-5 at the Georgia 18-yard line and were moving the football well with a chance to take a 45-35 lead. The Bulldogs increased the pressure and sacked Stroud for a loss of 12. Ohio State ended up settling for a field goal, leaving the door open for Bennett and Georgia.
Major injuries for both teams
Ohio State end Kidd Stover left the game and was taken to a local hospital with back spasms after he scored 1 catch for 7 yards. Big came in with 35 receptions for 399 yards and five touchdowns. Late in the third quarter, Harrison Jr. had a big hit in the back of the end zone and needed medical attention on the field. He did not return after amassing five catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns. His absence hampered the Buckeyes as Stroud tried to put his team up for a game-winning score in the final minute.
Although Georgia brought Mitchell back for the game after he missed most of the season with an injury, the Bulldogs lost another quick touchdown when Darnell Washington was knocked out in the first half and did not return. The huge tight end made one catch for 9 yards before he left. His status in the College Playoff National Championship will loom large, as will the status of wide receiver Ladd McConkey, who played while battling a knee injury.
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