SEC Championship: Bulldogs drop another heartbreaker

Georgia Bulldogs fans watch at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Saturday, December 1, 2018. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

It happened again. Really.

Georgia lost to Alabama and a second-string quarterback for the second time in two seasons Saturday.

The first time it was the national championship game. This time it was for the SEC title and Alabama prevailed 35-28 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Jalen Hurts replaced an injured Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback and led the Crimson Tide to the comeback win.

Georgia led Alabama 7-0 after the first quarter.

The Bulldogs struck first with 3:08 left in the quarter when Jake Fromm threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Isaac Nauta.

But Alabama tied the game 7-7 on the first play of the second quarter. Josh Jacobs ran one yard for a TD.

Georgia answered with a long drive that ended with D’Andre Swift running nine yards for a score and a 14-7 lead.

On the Bulldogs’ next possession, they went 51 yards for another TD. Fromm threw a short pass to Swift, who ran 11 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 advantage.

Alabama answered with a long run and eventually a TD of their own to pull within 21-14 at halftime.

Georgia added to its lead in the third quarter when Fromm threw a perfect 23-yard pass to Riley Ridley and the Bulldogs led by 14 again.

Alabama scored on a 51-yard TD pass and trailed by seven again.

It was 28-21 Georgia headed into the fourth quarter. But Alabama tied the game at 28 with 5:19 to play on a 10-yard touchdown pass from backup QB Jalen Hurts to Jerry Jeudy.

Georgia tried a fake punt, that failed, and the Crimson Tide started with great field position near midfield. The drive ended with Hurts running into the end zone for a touchdown.

Tide’s star quarterback injured

Tagovailoa limped off the field early in the first quarter after throwing an interception.

Tagovailoa was sacked a play before being intercepted by Georgia’s Richard LeCounte.

Tagovailoa was examined by team doctors on the sideline.

Alabama said Tagovailoa had an “undisclosed injury” but he played in the next offensive series and the rest of the first half. Doctors attended to him again after that next series.

He was down again in the fourth quarter after suffering an ankle injury that appeared more serious. He was replaced by last year’s starter, Hurts.

Hurts led Alabama to a touchdown to tie the game.

Tagovailoa threw a touchdown pass in overtime to beat the Bulldogs in last season’s national championship game.

Fields on the field early

Georgia freshman quarterback Justin Fields got into the game quickly.

Fields replaced Fromm for a play 5 ½ minutes into the game and made a hand-off before Fromm returned.

Beginning the day with a loss?

The day didn't start well for Georgia fans when it was reported that defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is expected to leave the Bulldogs after the season and become the head coach at Colorado.

According to CUSportsNation's Mike Singer, "Tucker's name picked up steam as this week continued" and that Tucker had already interviewed for the position. "We expect Colorado to make the news official in the next 24-48 hours."

Tucker, 46, has served as UGA’s defensive coordinator for the last three seasons, coming over from Alabama with Kirby Smart.