Georgia football shows championship heart in win over Ohio State: ‘Anybody else probably would’ve quit’
ATHENS — When Georgia fell down by 14 points in the first half, Jamon Dumas-Johnson turned to senior safety Chris Smith and told him the Bulldogs were going to Los Angeles. That’s the site of this year’s national championship game.
Most Georgia fans probably wouldn’t have believed Dumas-Johnson at that point, and certainly not when Georgia was down by 14 again in the fourth quarter. But Smith did. He repeated to Dumas-Johnson that Georgia would be playing in the national championship game.
The interaction shows why the Bulldogs are indeed heading to Los Angeles after a 42-41 win over Ohio State.
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“It’s scary. Anybody else probably would’ve quit. It’s a four-quarter game,” Dumas-Johnson said. “We always preach that. It’s not two quarters, you have to beat us for four. To be able to make that comeback, we found out who we are as a team.”
Georgia did not play its best game on Saturday. Far from it. The defense got torched, the offense went just 2-of-10 on third down, Georgia missed two kicks and a handful of more sacks.
Those plays explain why Georgia found itself trailing by 14 in both the first and second half on Saturday.
But it doesn’t tell the story of the whole game, one that Georgia managed to win by coming back in each half to take the lead. Stetson Bennett found AD Mitchell for a touchdown with 54 seconds remaining and Ohio State’s final field goal attempt sailed wide.
The Bulldogs fought, clawed and barked their way to a win over an Ohio State team that is as talented as any in the country. The 14-point fourth-quarter deficit was the largest ever overcome in a College Football Playoff game.
“The one before the half is probably the one where we had seized a little momentum there, and they went to the half with the momentum after that,” Smart said. “That was probably the most disappointing thing we had.”
Despite the disappointment, Smart was confident his team would fight. Georgia did, just not at the start of the third quarter.
Ohio State carried that momentum into the third quarter, as the Buckeyes pushed the lead to 35-24. Georgia’s offense struggled, with the nadir coming on a drive that started on the Ohio State 32-yard line, only to end up settling for a missed 52-yard field goal attempt.
The Buckeyes seemed like they were on their way to pushing the lead to 18 when Stroud floated a third-down pass to Marvin Harrison Jr. in the back of the end zone. The star receiver had managed to lose Kelee Ringo once again and had a chance to haul in his third touchdown catch of the night.
But Javon Bullard kept fighting. He kept moving and leveled Harrison as the ball reached his hands. The hit was so devastatingly perfect that it was flagged for targeting. No one could hit someone as hard as Bullard did and not do something wrong.
“I seen Marvin’s hands going for the ball and just tried to make a play when I could,” Bullard said on the pass breakup.