Georgia Slips By Ohio State In Dramatic Finale

By Terrance Turner

Dec. 31, 2022

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – DECEMBER 31: Arian Smith #11 of the Georgia Bulldogs runs for a touchdown after catching a pass during the fourth quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 31, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The final college football game of 2022 ended in dramatic fashion tonight. The University of Georgia Bulldogs faced the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. The Bowl commenced inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, making it virtually a home game for the Bulldogs. And despite trailing nearly the entire game, Georgia pulled off a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback to win.

Fourth Quarter (& Leadup)

Georgia (13-0) entered the fourth quarter down 38-24. After trailing Ohio State 28-24 at the half, the Bulldogs fell further behind in the third quarter. Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud threw a 10-yard touchdown to receiver Emeka Egbuka:

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Then kicker Noah Ruggles had sent a 25-yard field goal through the uprights to expand the lead.

Fourth-Quarter Drive

Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett tossed to tight end Brock Bowers. Initially, referees ruled him short. Upon review, the ruling was reversed. Bowers’ catch was affirmed, bringing the Bulldogs to 1st and goal. Running back Daijun Edwards brought Georgia near the five-yard line. But Bennett’s next two passes fell incomplete. Kicker Paul Podlesny made a 31-yard field goal attempt to cut the lead to 11.

Ohio State led 38-27 with 10:14 remaining. But they had to punt on their next drive. (Referees ruled out defensive pass interference because Stroud’s pass was tipped. And Georgia coach Kirby Smart called timeout before the Buckeyes could outsmart him with a fake punt.)

The Bulldogs got possession. And Georgia struck quickly. Bennett aired it out, heaving a far-out ball to Arian Smith for a 76-yard touchdown. Then he hurled an end-zone pass to Ladd McConkey for a two-point conversion.

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ATLANTA, GEORGIA – DECEMBER 31: Arian Smith #11 of the Georgia Bulldogs runs for a touchdown after catching a pass during the fourth quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 31, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Bulldogs pulled off a wild fourth-quarter comeback. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The Buckeyes ate up nearly six minutes of clock before adding to their lead. Ohio State kicker Noah Ruggles was good from 48 yards out to give the Buckeyes a 41-35 lead with just 2:43 left.

Last Drive

Subsequently, the Bulldogs mounted a drive with the pressure on high. Bennett flipped a pass across the middle to tight end Brock Bowers for a first down. Two plays later, he completed a pass to Kearis Jackson for 35 yds to the Ohio St. 15-yard line for a 1st down.

After quickly competing a pass to Kenny McIntosh, Bennett and the offense began to slow down. “There’s no reason to have this much urgency,” one commentator noted. As if on cue, Bennett and the Bulldogs slowed their pace. But they still scored quickly: Bennett launched a pass to the end zone. Adonai Mitchell caught it for the touchdown.

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Ohio State tried to take a last-minute lead with just 54 seconds left. They got within range for a 50-yard field goal attempt. But Ruggles missed the kick. It went wide left:

In a dramatic fourth-quarter finale, Georgia held on to slip by Ohio State, 42-41.

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Postgame

Bennett was visibly emotional as the game ended, overwhelmed by the team’s surprise victory. In a postgame interview, he seemed almost dumbstruck. “What went through your mind?” a reporter asked.

Bennett shrugged, briefly speechless. “‘It’s in our hands now.’ And then, when we scored, I was scared to death, ’cause they played a hell of a game on offense. I was like, ‘Damn, we scored too quick.’ But our guys stepped up…Man. What a game.”

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