ATLANTA - Just looking at the box score of Georgia's 32-28 loss to Alabama in Saturday evening's Southeastern Conference Championship doesn't quite do the game justice.
Both teams put on a display of resilience and play-making ability that would seem to only find its way on paper as a form of fiction.
The final play, the game that ended Georgia's National Championship aspirations, is one that those associated with the Bulldog program likely wish was just fiction.
After a 26-yard strike from Aaron Murray to Arthur Lynch set Georgia up in a first and goal situation from the Alabama 8 yard line, the Bulldogs elected to go no huddle and call a play rather than spike the ball.
According to Georgia head coach Mark Richt, the ball ended up nowhere near where it was intended to go.
"We had first down, clock stopped while we were getting to the line of scrimmage and we called a play called stout, but it's a fade by the outside receiver. It's a four‑step speed‑out by the inside receiver," said Richt. "We were attempting to throw the ball to Malcolm Mitchell in the back of the end zone, I think it was Malcolm, but the outside receiver, whoever it was, and the ball got batted and then it just landed, unfortunately, right in the arms of our guy that was running the stout route, the inside receiver and that's not a good thing when you don't have time‑outs. But we run that route because a lot of times when you run the speed‑out, it grabs the attention of the cornerback, so you have a receiver running a fade and you have an inside receiver running that little stout route and you try to get the corner think that the ball might hopefully be going to the inside receiver and then throw it over the top. But we were taking a shot at the end zone right there. Again, the ball got batted so what can you do."
Richt also says that the play, which ended in disaster and doused Georgia's hope of a National Championship, was chosen of spiking the ball in an effort to preserve as much time as possible.
"Well, spiking the ball takes time," said Richt. "We had plenty of time to call play, so we called the play and we were taking ‑‑ the goal was to take a shot at their back right end of the end zone and the ball got batted, the ball got tipped and it landed to a receiver that was running a speed out."
In his press conference after Saturday's loss, Richt also informed the media that getting into the film room and seeing what exactly happened on that last play is something that will happen soon.
"I'll be interested to see the film, what was happening with that fade route in the back right end zone area, because I know that's where Murray was going with it," he said.
While the negative impact the play had on Saturday night's contest and, in essence, Georgia's entire season is irreversible at this point, Richt sees no reason to place the blame on any of the players involved.
"If nothing else it could have been an incomplete pass and in that situation, you want a touchdown or incomplete pass," said Richt. "The ball got batted and it ended up in our arms of the guy that was running the speed‑out. Just a tough thing. You'd like a guy that has the presence of mind to bat the ball down knowing but I don't know if there's anybody in America that would have thought of that one."
With hopes of a BCS at large bid as low as they possibly could be without being zero, and a birth in the Cotton Bowl a likelihood, Richt told the media after the SEC Championship on Saturday that he has no problem with the effort his players gave.
"I told them I was disappointed but I wasn't disappointed in them. That was the main thing. I told them they were warriors in there and I was proud of them, proud of all the coaches," said Richt. "You know, it was a knock‑down drag‑out fight and everybody swung to the end. We had a chance at the end. We just didn't get it done. But told them I was proud of them."
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