Seniors come through in clutch for double OT Rose Bowl win to send Georgia to national championship game

PASADENA, Calif. — Two seniors that came back to Georgia to make their final seasons something special made sure the Bulldogs will have a chance to do just that.

 

Lorenzo Carter and Sony Michel turned into heroes for Georgia on Monday to help the Bulldogs move one win away from its first national title since 1980 with a thrilling 54-48 double overtime victory over Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.

Carter blocked a field goal in the second overtime in a topsy-turvy contest and Sony Michel raced 27 yards off a direct snap to pull out the win in a game that is sure to go down as one of the most memorable in program history.

Georgia locked up a spot in the Jan. 8 national championship game at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium against the winner of Clemson-Alabama Sugar Bowl later Monday night.

The Bulldogs dug deep and extended their first appearance in the College Football Playoff by rallying twice in the second half and prevailing in double overtime.

The Rose Bowl had never had an overtime in its previous 103 times it was played.

Carter celebrated running up the sideline after the 6-foot-6 senior got his right hand up to block a 27-yard Austin Seibert field goal attempt. Michel ran left off a direct snap and scored his third touchdown of the game and the Bulldogs celebrated.

Michel, who like Carter considered a jump to the NFL after their junior seasons, rushed for 181 yards on 11 carries.

Oklahoma won the toss in overtime and Georgia got the ball first.

After two runs gained four yards, Fromm couldn’t connect on third-and-6 – it was a little behind the tight end. Rodrigo Blankenship then connected on a 38-yard field goal.

Oklahoma couldn’t get a first down and tied the game on a 33-yard Seibert field goal.

The Sooners got the ball first in the second extra period, but the Bulldogs forced another field goal try.

The Bulldogs will head from Southern California back to the Deep South knowing that second-year coach Kirby Smart has guided his alma mater into position to play for its first national title in 37 years.

With its season and championship hopes on the line, Georgia drove 59 yards in seven plays to get a 2-yard touchdown run from Nick Chubb out of the wildcat formation with 55 ticks left on the clock. Chubb finished with 146 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.

The SEC’s second-all-time leading rusher ran right and cutback to find the end zone. Blankenship’s point after found its way through to tie the game. Jake Fromm hit Terry Godwin on a 16-yard completion on third-and-10.

Oklahoma’s maligned defense gave up 498 yards in regulation, but forced a fumble on a run by Michel to the outside to get a go-ahead score.

Michel took a helmet on the football by linebacker Caleb Kelly and the ball came out. Safety Steven Parker scooped it up, tiptoed on the sideline staying in bounds and raced 46 yards for a touchdown with 6:52 to go.

Georgia looked like it was getting blown to smithereens from here to Santa Monica in its first Rose Bowl appearance in 75 years after initially trailing Oklahoma.

The Bulldogs poured on 24 straight points, took a counterpunch from Oklahoma when Heisman Trophy-winner Baker Mayfield (23 of 35 for 287 yards, two TDs, one INT) connected with fullback Dimitri Flowers on an 11-yard touchdown pass with 8:47 to play to tie the game at 38 after an 88-yard, 6-play scoring drive.

Georgia rallied behind big plays from two of the greatest running backs in program history and a defense that went from gashed to great after Oklahoma’s squib kick before halftime gave Georgia the opening it needed.

It was an emotional New Year’s afternoon for fans of both teams and it looked like defenses were left behind in 2017 in the first half, but the Bulldogs tied their season-high with five sacks with six different players credited with getting to Mayfield.

Georgia ultimately conquered the Sooners and their explosive offense in a first-ever meeting that demands these blueblood programs get together again down the road given how exciting this one was.

Georgia (13-1) matched the 2002 team with most wins in program history.

Chubb scored on a 50-yard touchdown run and Michel followed with a 38-yard scoring run of his own to tie the game at 38 with 41 seconds left in the third quarter. Safety Dominick Sanders picked off an overthrown pass by Mayfield intended for tight end Mark Andrews at the 43 and returned it 39 yards to the 4-yard line with 14:48 to play.

Two plays later, Fromm hit senior Javon Wims over the middle for a 4-yard touchdown with 13:57 to play. That gave the Bulldogs an average of 10.6 yards per play to that point.

The Bulldogs’ defense provided little resistance in the first half.

Georgia had given up 20 or more points just twice this season but fell behind 31-14.

On a third-and-goal at the 2, the Sooners (12-2) turned a trick play into another touchdown when a wide open Mayfield hauled in a touchdown pass on a reverse pass from receiver CeeDee Lamb.

Mayfield and his weapons in the passing game may get the publicity, but Rodney Anderson pulverized the Bulldogs in the first half, rushing for touchdowns of 9 and 41 yards to give the Sooners a 21-7 lead. He rushed for 125 yards on 13 carries in the first half.

Georgia trailed by only two scores at halftime after Oklahoma did a squib kick after going up 31-14 and Blankenship booted a career-long 55-yard field goal.

The Bulldogs’ first offensive play of the second half cut the Sooners lead to 31-24 with 12:25 left in the third quarter. Chubb’s touchdown run saw him breaking three tackles and outracing the defense the last 40 yards.

That gave Chubb and Michel a whopping 26.0 yards per carry after nine combined carries. They each had hit 100 yards rushing six minutes into the second half.

Georgia was giving up yards, but also creating negative plays.

The defense sacked Mayfield five times in the first three quarters — tying its season high — after getting back-to-back sacks from Jonathan Ledbetter and D’Andre Walker.

Now Georgia awaits its opponent for the national championship game — Clemson or Alabama.

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