ATLANTA - Five yards - five measly little yards.
It may not sound like much, but that was enough for Alabama to hold off a furious Georgia rally to claim the SEC championship Saturday at the Georgia Dome, 32-28.
The effort was gallant, everything head coach Mark Richt could have ever dreamed.
In the end, however, second-ranked Alabama was just a little bit better and held off the No. 3 Bulldogs (11-2) to win the SEC title and the right to defend their national crown against Notre Dame.
Talk about a crazy ending.
After an official review momentarily saved the Bulldogs when the cameras showed the Alabama defensive back had trapped a pass from Aaron Murray instead of picking the ball off, the Bulldog quarterback tried to work a miracle.
He almost did.
With no timeouts, Murray drove the Bulldogs 55 yards, connecting with Tavarres King and Arthur Lynch on a couple of big first before Georgia lined up for a play with just 15 ticks on the clock.
Murray completed a short pass to Chris Conley, but the sophomore was brought down at the 5 as time ran out sending the Crimson Tide (12-1) to Miami.
Georgia got the first break of the game when Jarvis Jones sacked McCarron, forcing a fumble which Christian Robinson picked up at the Alabama 40.
However, Georgia's momentum didn't last for long after Marshall Morgan[/db[ pushed a 51-yard field attempt wide to the left.
But Georgia's fortunes would soon change for the better.
A fake punt by the Bulldogs, which up-back Arthur Lynch converted when he hit [db]Sanders Commings with a 16-yard pass to set up Georgia's first score, a 19-yard pass to tight end Jay Rome early in the second quarter.
Alabama tried to answer right back.
The Crimson Tide drove inside the Bulldog 10 until Georgia appeared to have Alabama stopped when McCarron threw incomplete only to be given the first down after a late hit on Bacarri Rambo.
But even with a first down inside the 5, Alabama couldn't score, thanks to Commings who stepped in front of a McCarron pass for interception giving the Bulldogs back the ball.
Unfortunately for Georgia, its luck was about to run out.
Tide running back Eddie Lacy brought Alabama back even with a 41-yard touchdown run and following a Murray interception on a terrible throw right into the hands of HaHa Clinton-Dix, it gave the Crimson Tide another opportunity that they would not let get away.
Credit McCarron for that.
Following a couple of tough runs by T.J. Yeldon for a first down, McCarron scooted 22 yards up the middle of the field before being tackled at the 5 with five seconds left in the half.
That brought on kicker Jeremy Shelly who converted the short 22-yard field goal to send Alabama into half with a 10-7 lead, which ironically was the score in last year's championship game, eventually won by LSU 42-10.
But last year, the Bulldogs didn't have Gurley.
A 31-yard pass to King gave the Bulldogs the big play they were looking for, but Gurley did the rest.
Of Georgia's next five plays, Todd Gurley touched the football four times, accounting for the remaining 35 yards, including the final three for the go-ahead touchdown with 12:09 in the third.
Moments later, the Bulldogs received their second huge special-teams play of the afternoon.
With the Crimson Tide reaching for long field goal, Cornelius Washington got a hand up and blocked the kick right into the arms of Alec Ogletree who scooped up the ball and raced 55 yards for the touchdown and a 21-10 lead.
The Tide wasn't about to roll over.
Alabama answered Ogletree's touchdown - in a big way.
In a manner of just over four minutes, Alabama went from 11 points down to ahead by four, scoring first on a 10-yard run by Yeldon and a subsequent two-point conversion to close within 21-18.
Following a quick three-and-out by Georgia, the Tide was at it again, driving 77 yards on seven plays to jump in front 25-21 on a 1-yard run by Lacy on the first play of the fourth quarter.
But Murray would have an aswer.
After starting at the Alabama following a touchback, Murray found a wide-open King on a 49-yard play, setting up that man - Gurley - who ran in from 10 yards out to put Georgia up 28-25.
But like two punch-drunk fighters, Alabama had one shot left.
The Crimson Tide connected, with McCarron finding a wide open Amari Cooper for a 45-yard touchdown to put Alabama up 32-28 with just 3:03 to play.
There would not no late magic for the Bulldogs.
Murray and Georgia went a quick three and out forcing the Bulldogs to punt back to the Crimson Tide with 2:17 to go.
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