• Sal Maiorana

Time ran out on Georgia in 2012 SEC title game

ATLANTA (Dec. 1, 2012) - When Alabama meets Georgia for the SEC championship Saturday night, it will surely kindle thoughts of their epic showdown in the 2012 title game when the Bulldogs lost a heartbreaker to the Crimson Tide.

That night at the recently imploded Georgia Dome, Mark Richt’s Bulldogs had No. 1 Alabama on the ropes, driving for a potential winning touchdown in the waning seconds before bad luck intervened, and the Crimson Tide was able to escape with a 32-28 victory.

It was a back and forth game that saw five lead changes, the last when Alabama’s A.J. McCarron threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper with 3:15 remaining, and then there was very nearly a sixth.

Taking possession at its own 15 with 1:02 to go, Georgia quickly marched downfield as quarterback Aaron Murray completed five of seven passes – one incompletion was originally ruled an interception but then overturned on instant replay – to get the Bulldogs to the brink of the end zone. Included were clutch completions of 15 yards to Arthur Lynch, 23 yards to Tavarres King, and the last of 26 yards to Lynch that put the ball on the Alabama 8 with 15 seconds left.

Out of timeouts, the Bulldogs frantically rushed to the line and rather than spike the ball, Murray took the snap with nine seconds to go and the clock running. He tried to throw to the corner of the end zone, but the ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage and floated into the arms of Georgia’s Chris Conley in the right flat. Conley didn’t think quick enough and he caught the ball, then promptly slipped to the turf, and once he was down, so were the Bulldogs because they couldn’t get another play off.

Highlights from the 2012 SEC Championship Game.

“We just ran out of time,” said Richt, who defended the final decision not to spike because the play that was called was the right one, and it was sheer misfortune that Conley instinctually caught the ball rather than letting it drop.

“I told the guys I was disappointed, but I’m not disappointed in them. They’re warriors. We had a chance at the end. If anybody thinks our guys didn't play their tail off, Aaron Murray didn't play his tail off, they're crazy.’’

Alabama coach Nick Saban, who a few weeks later would lead the Tide to a 42-14 blowout national championship victory over Notre Dame, said of the final sequence, “I’m ready to have a heart attack here. This group has been fantastic. They were able to accomplish something of significance, and something that last year’s team didn’t accomplish, which is win the SEC championship.”

Georgia seemed primed for the upset all night and after Alec Ogletree’s touchdown return after a blocked field goal, the Bulldogs were up 21-10 in the third quarter. But the Tide rolled down field on its next two possessions to go ahead 25-21. Todd Gurley’s touchdown run early in the fourth put Georgia back on top before the Cooper touchdown produced the winning points for Alabama.

Gurley led Georgia with 122 yards rushing, including a couple of touchdowns, while Murray was 18 of 33 for 265 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Alabama punished Georgia on the ground as Eddie Lacy rushed for 181 yards and T.J. Yeldon had 153 as Alabama totaled 350 yards. McCarron was 12 of 21 for 162 yards with an interception, just his third of the season, Cooper catching eight of the passes for 128 yards.

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