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Dominant Second-Half Performance Vaults Alabama Over Georgia, 41-24

An impressive second-half showing from the Alabama defense propels Crimson Tide to big victory

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Behind a strong showing from quarterback Mac Jones and a stifling defensive effort in the second half, the University of Alabama came away victorious in a 41-24 defeat of No. 3-ranked Georgia on Saturday night inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. 

The Crimson Tide signal caller put up his third consecutive game of throwing for over 400 yards with 417, to be exact, adding four touchdowns. He also completed 75 percent of his passes, going 24-of-32. 

Really, his only detrimental mistake of the game came on the opening play from scrimmage when Bulldogs safety Richard LeCounte II intercepted a ball that was tipped and, even that, wasn't his fault. 

But after trailing 24-20 at the half, everything turned on its head for the Crimson Tide when Jones found junior wide receiver Jaylen Waddle blazing down the field for a 90-yard touchdown reception that put Alabama up 27-24 with four minutes remaining in the third quarter. 

"We knew it was going to be a 15-round fight," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said. "We knew we probably weren't going to be able to win it until the later rounds ... It was a great win against a very good team."

On the ensuing Georgia drive, freshman defensive back Malachi Moore intercepted a Stetson Bennett pass that eventually turned into seven more points for the Crimson Tide when running back Najee Harris punched it into the end zone from two yards out.

Alabama's lead was extended to 10, 34-24, and the Crimson Tide never looked back, cruising to the 17-point victory, shutting out Georgia over the final 30 minutes of game time and scoring 21 unanswered points.

Moore's interception was one of three that Bennett threw to Crimson Tide defenders and the first one of the second half, with redshirt junior defensive back Daniel Wright's coming on the first play of the fourth quarter. 

The Crimson Tide's defensive unit only gave up 146 yards of total offense to the Bulldogs in the final two quarters compared to the 268 yards in the first half. 

"The turnovers in the second half were huge," Saban said. "The defense played a little better in the second half. Got off the field on third down a little better ... It was a better job of executing."

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Senior wideout DeVonta Smith led the passing attack with 11 catches for 167 yards and two scores of 17 and 15 yards, while Waddle added six receptions for 161 yards and one touchdown. 

Sophomore John Metchie III opened up the scoring in the first quarter with 40-yard touchdown grab to put Alabama up 7-0. 

"Those guys get open and make plays," Jones said. "It's really the offensive line that starts it all then just throwing to those guys if it's one-on-one and they'll come down and make a play." 

Placekicker Will Reichard was a breath of fresh air for Crimson Tide fans, who went 2-for-2 on field goal attempts on the night, including a 52-yard field goal as time expired in the first half cutting Georgia's lead to only four heading into intermission. 

Coming into Saturday, the Bulldogs ranked No. 1 in rushing defense at 38 yards a game and Harris carved them up for 151 yards on 31 carries, averaging almost five yards he touched the ball. 

"We had some great performances out there," Saban said. "Najee, Smitty, Waddle, a lot of guys played well, but I'm really proud of the whole team. They all played so hard in this game. It was just a great team win for everyone on our team."

While Alabama was able to pick Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett three times, he did end up throwing for 269 yards and two touchdowns. The tailback tandem of Kendall Milton and Zamir White combined for 101 yards on 16 attempts. 

Georgia's James Cook got loose for a 82-yard touchdown catch and run on the opening play of the second quarter to give the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead.

All in all, the victory over Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart moved Saban's record to 22-0 against former assistants. Next up to try and dethrone the head master is Tennessee's Jeremy Pruitt.

"Humility always keeps you hungry," Saban said. "It's one game against a very good team. We are going to have to continue to improve in a lot of areas and we are going to have to continue to work hard to try and play an SEC game every week, you know, it's tough. Players are going to have to respond because any team can't beat you if you don't bring your A-game."

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