INDIANAPOLIS – “Look at the confetti falling from the roof! Look at the confetti falling from the roof!”

Surely, the angels in heaven were hearing that from the great Larry Munson on Monday night as the Georgia Bulldogs finally won that oh-so-elusive national championship at Lucas Oil Stadium. Gone now since 2011, Munson was the last Georgia play-by-play broadcaster to call a national championship victory for the Bulldogs.

Forty-one years later, that earthly honor fell to Scott Howard, Munson’s longtime sidekick and the man calling the Dogs every year since Munson dropped the mic. His punctuating words will now enter UGA’s annals for perpetuity.

“Dogs are winners; a national championship for a new generation of Bulldogs,” Howard exclaimed. “How ‘bout that final score, 33-18.”

ExploreThe AJC's complete coverage on Georgia's victory

It’d been since the 1980 team went undefeated and beat mighty Notre Dame 17-10 in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1981 that Georgia hoisted a national championship trophy. Monday night, against Nick Saban’s mighty No. 1-ranked Alabama team, Kirby Smart’s sixth team earned that right with a victory over Alabama.

Smart, himself a Georgia football letterman and lifelong fan, also paid homage to Munson in his postgame remarks.

“There’s going to be some property destroyed in Indianapolis tonight!” Smart said from winner’s platform, a reference to Munson’s final call from the 1980 win over Florida. “This is surreal!”

The feat -- accomplished exactly 14,984 days after the last one -- was as steely as any we’ve seen from the Bulldogs. They overcame a mountain of setbacks and missteps, then did everything right over the final 10 minutes of play both offensively and defensively.

caption arrowCaption
Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) attempts a pass against the pressure from Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Christian Harris (8) during the first quarter at the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Monday, January 10, 2022. Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) attempts a pass against the pressure from Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Christian Harris (8) during the first quarter at the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Monday, January 10, 2022.   Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com

Credit: Hyosub Shin

caption arrowCaption
Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) attempts a pass against the pressure from Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Christian Harris (8) during the first quarter at the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Monday, January 10, 2022. Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Who to credit the most is a fool’s game. Quarterback Stetson Bennett, dogged by Alabama’s defense all game and Georgia fans all season, led the Bulldogs’ on a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives to make this a come-from-behind victory. The former walk-on and redshirt senior from Blackshear had 224 yards and two touchdowns, going 17-for-26 for 224 yards and two TDs. He improves to 14-3 as Georgia’s starting quarterback, including 11-1 this season.

His performance came after being sacked five times, two of them the result of being called for intentional-grounding penalties.

ExploreStetson Bennett writes the perfect ending to his legend

The second of those set up Alabama for a touchdown that put them ahead 18-13 with 10:14 to play.

“I just put my head down and said I was not going to be the reason we lost this game,” said Bennett.

He wasn’t. He was a big reason the Bulldogs won it.

caption arrowCaption
Georgia wide receiver Adonai Mitchell catches the go-ahead touchdown against Alabama defensive back Khyree Jackson to take a 19-18 lead during the 4th quarter in the College Football Playoff Championship game on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Georgia wide receiver Adonai Mitchell catches the go-ahead touchdown against Alabama defensive back Khyree Jackson to take a 19-18 lead during the 4th quarter in the College Football Playoff Championship game on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis.  “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

caption arrowCaption
Georgia wide receiver Adonai Mitchell catches the go-ahead touchdown against Alabama defensive back Khyree Jackson to take a 19-18 lead during the 4th quarter in the College Football Playoff Championship game on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

The winning score came actually came on the next possession when Bennett reared back and hit freshman A.D. Mitchell with a 40-yard scoring strike. Tightly covered by Alabama’s Khyree Jackson, Mitchell simply won the ball away from his defender. That gave the Bulldogs a 19-18 lead with 8:09 to play. A two-point try failed.

But after Georgia’s defense got the ball right back for Bennett, he led them down the field again. Helped by an interference call, he hit the fabulous freshman tight end Brock Bowers on the gutsiest play call of the night. On third-and-one, Bennett faked the handoff and tossed the ball to a wide open Bowers in the left flat. The Bulldogs kicked the PAT this time to increase the lead to 26-18.

And finally, Kelee Ringo intercepted Bryce Young and returned it a championship-game record 79 yards for the final score. Smart actually ran part of the way down the field following the redshirt freshman cornerback. But not for the reason folks might think.

“The sad thing is I was actually screaming at him to get down,” Smart said with a grin. “All I was thinking was for him to get down so we could run out the clock and win this game. But he did the right thing because it put us up two scores.”

caption arrowCaption
Georgia defensive back Kelee Ringo intercepts a Bryce Young pass intended for Traeshon Holden and returns it for a touchdown for a 33-18 lead and the victory over Alabama in the College Football Playoff Championship game on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Georgia football-2022 secondary-depth chart

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

caption arrowCaption
Georgia defensive back Kelee Ringo intercepts a Bryce Young pass intended for Traeshon Holden and returns it for a touchdown for a 33-18 lead and the victory over Alabama in the College Football Playoff Championship game on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Safety Lewis Cine was named defensive MVP for the Bulldogs. He had seven tackles and a pass breakup and was calling the shots from the back end of a defense that will go down as one of the greatest of this century.

After failing to sack Young even once in the previous matchup, Georgia recorded four on this night. After failing to cause a turnover the last time, they created two this night.

“I definitely think this defense is going in the history books,” Cine said.

The Bulldogs’ win gave them 14 for the first time in school history. It also vanquished what for them has been “the Bama Beast.”

Georgia came in having lost seven in a row to the Crimson Tide, including a month ago in Atlanta in the SEC Championship game and four years ago, also in Atlanta, in the 2018 College Football Playoff championship game. Smart was 0-4 against Saban, who came in 25-1 against his nine former assistant coaches who became head coaches.

But for the 100 or so players that occupied a jersey on Georgia’s roster, Monday’s accomplishment was all about vanquishing only the 41-24 loss they suffered on Dec. 4 in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Bulldogs went into that one thinking they were the country’s best team, and so did Las Vegas oddsmakers, who installed them as 6.5-point favorites.

Remarkably, Georgia was favored again on Monday, this time by half as much. That handicapping was based, apparently, on the Bulldogs’ resounding win over No. 2 Michigan in the Orange Bowl and the Crimson Tide being without a few of their key players.

It was the third time there was an all-SEC national championship game. Alabama won the previous meetings against Georgia and LSU. Saban is now 7-3 in title games.

“Just never beating them made it so special to me,” Georgia senior running back James Cook said. “So many games we were so close and they just pulled it out. But we pulled it out this time. Just holding that trophy up was the greatest moment ever and nobody can take it away.”

ajc.com

Credit: ArLuther Lee

Credit: ArLuther Lee