By Terrance Turner
Jan. 9, 2023
Tonight the college football season ends with the CFP national championship, presented by AT&T. Last year, the University of Georgia won its first football national championship in 41 years powered by the magical performance of unlikely starting quarterback Stetson Bennett. But could they do it again? Against the TCU Horned Frogs?
Quarterback Max Duggan took his team to an unlikely playoff berth with some fabulous, gritty performances. But tonight, the Horned Frogs were anything but playoff ready. Duggan’s pass fell incomplete on 3rd and 12th. Fourth down. TCU punts. Fair catch by Kearis Jackson. Georgia takes over.
Georgia’s offense began with a false start. But it quickly recovered: Bulldogs running back Kenny McIntosh gained 7 yards on 1st and 15. And Quarterback Stetson Bennett hit tight end Brock Bowers for a first down.
Referees flagged the offense for an illegal shift. That made it 1st and 15 at the 39. Bennett hit Bowers again, this time for 12 yards. Kendall Milton picked up a first down. Then Stetson Bennett faked a handoff and ran 21 yards for the touchdown. Jack Poslesny kicked the extra point. The Georgia Bulldogs LED 7-0 with 11:01 remaining in the first quarter.
Max Duggan got swarmed and sacked on first down. He lost six yards on that play. On 2nd and 16, a gain of two yards. Then TCU fumbled. Georgia recovered. Bennett completed a pass to Ladd McConkey.
On 3rd and 7, Bennett completed a pass to Daijun Edwards. Kicker Jack Poslesny kicked a 24 yard field goal to give Georgia a 10-to-nothing lead. 6:51 remaining in the first quarter.
TCU Responds; Georgia Extends
Duggan threw to Derius Davis for 54 yards. Emari Demercado gained five yards on the next play – and the Georgia defender told him got hurt on the play. Near the 10 yard line, Demercado rushed for four yards. Third and one at the two yard line. Max Duggan ran in for the touchdown. His two-yard scoring run (followed by the extra point) made it 10-7.
The Bulldogs moved down the field, helped partially by Kenny McIntosh, who rushed for 11 yards and a first down. Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey also gained 11 yards on a catch-and-run. Then he caught an end-zone pass from Bennett for a 37-yard touchdown.
Demercado picked up 10 yards on one play and seven on the next. TCU added an extra nine yards next. But Duggan was sacked by Michael Williams for a loss of eight. The first quarter ended with the Horned Frogs on the move. But the drive ended without any points.
Georgia, on the other hand, continued to dominate offensively. Bennett hit Bowers again for 35 yards. Later, on 3rd and 10th, he caught the snapped ball and then ran off immediately, evading Horned Frogs defenders for a 12-yard run.
Two plays later, he found Edwards for 10 yards. Then Edwards rushed for seven more. Kenny McIntosh ran for 11 taking the Bulldogs to first and goal. Bennett ran in for a second touchdown.
TCU tried to respond. But Duggan was intercepted by Georgia’s Javon Bullard. And Georgia cashed in quickly on the interception on 3rd and 15, Bennett threw to Bowers for a gain of 24 yards.
That took the Bulldogs into the red zone. And Kendall Milton took them to first and goal with a daring four-yard rush. Then he rushed into the end zone for the touchdown. Georgia soon took a commanding 31-7 lead.
Duggan was sacked again by Bear Alexander. Then he got intercepted again by Bullard. The Bulldogs took advantage. Almost immediately, Bennett tossed a 22-yard touchdown to Adonai Mitchell.
Georgia led 38-7 at halftime. ESPN noted: “It was the largest halftime lead in a national championship game since the 2002 BCS, when Miami led Nebraska 34-0.”
The second half was all Georgia. Stetson Bennett spread the wealth, targeting a plethora of different receivers. The result was one of the most dominant performances in college football bowl history — and a virtual highlight reel of Bulldogs highlights.
Early in the third quarter, Brock Bowers scored with a 22-yard rush TD:
Darnell Washington brought the Bulldogs towards 1st and goal. Then Ladd McConkey caught his second touchdown of the night, sealing a 52-7 lead for Georgia.
Branson Robinson rushed 12 yards near the goal line and then scored on the very next play:
Then he scored again:
In the end, Georgia obliterated TCU for a gigantic 65-7 win. It’s their second consecutive championship. And it’s the biggest win in college ball history.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart credited aggression for the win. “We wanted our kids to play without fear,” Smart said. “And all year I told them, I said ‘We ain’t getting hunted guys. … We’re doing the hunting. And hunting season’s almost over. We only got one more chance to hunt, and we hunted tonight.'”
Stetson Bennett was sensational, rushing for two touchdowns and throwing for four more. In what could be his final football game, Bennett led the Bulldogs to their second straight championship.
“I’m pumped up right now,” Bennett said after the game concluded. “We came out here, and we played a good football game.”