It was 22nd-ranked Georgia winning on a dramatic last-second pass this time, with Matthew Stafford and Mikey Henderson connecting on the Bulldogs’ first play in overtime to hand the 16th-ranked Crimson Tide a 26-23 defeat and Nick Saban his first loss at the Capstone.
After coming back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit and taking a 23-20 lead on its first possession of overtime, the Tide’s first lead lasted all of one play.
Stafford floated a 25-yard pass to the corner of the end zone, where Henderson pulled it down in front of Alabama’s student section before being mauled by teammates and drenched by angry students throwing their drinks on the victors. It ruined what was setting up to be another fourth-quarter win for Saban’s club – something the Tide never used to do under Mike Shula. The Tide blew two 21-point leads last week against Arkansas before winning 41-38 on a 4-yard pass from John Parker Wilson to Matt Caddell with 8 seconds to play.
The Tide came back from a 20-10 deficit with 12:23 remaining on Saturday, with Wilson marching the team 88 yards and scrambling for the game-tying touchdown with 1:09 left in regulation and a packed house at Bryant-Denny Stadium going wild.
That came minutes after Leigh Tiffin had cut Georgia’s lead to 20-13 with a 22-yard field goal.
With the score tied at 20 after Wilson’s touchdown run, Stafford drove the Bulldogs back into Alabama territory, setting up a 47-yard Brandon Coutu field-goal try that sailed wide-left and sent the game to overtime.
That’s territory where Georgia has rarely been under Richt, but the Bulldogs have had success in those few opportunities. They’re now 2-0 in extra time under Richt and 4-2 all-time. Alabama is now 3-7 in overtime.
Coutu’s 47-yard field goal with just over 12 minutesremaining gave Georgia the 10-point lead it would later squander, although it seemed the Bulldogs had the game well in hand at the time. Georgia had held Wilson to 91 passing yards through three quarters before he developed a hot hand in the fourth.
Wilson completed 4 of 8 passes in the final period for 92 yards, the biggest completion a 43-yard bomb to Keith Brown that helped push the Tide onto the game-tying touchdown.
Alabama’s 10-point run in the last quarter answered Georgia’s 10 straight points between the third and early fourth quarters.
Rashad Johnson’s interception and 29-yard return to Georgia’s 37 set up Alabama’s first touchdown of the night. Terry Grant ran two straight plays, with his 30-yard burst to Georgia’s 1-yard line setting up a Wilson plunge that made it 10-10 early in the third quarter.
But just as quickly as the Tide had finally tied the score and the home crowd was rocking, Georgia answered with an extended touchdown drive. Georgia drove 63 yards – the big play coming on a 33-yard completion from Stafford to Sean Bailey – and took a 17-10 lead with Knowshon Moreno’s 6-yard touchdown run.
Georgia’s defense didn’t exactly shut down Alabama in the first half – Terry Grant and Glen Coffee combined to run 10 times for 62 yards – but the Bulldogs nearly shut the Tide out. Georgia held a 10-0 lead with 39 seconds left in the half before Wilson – who finished 17-for-35 for 185 yards – led a 46-yard drive, setting up a 40-yard Leigh Tiffin field goal to put Alabama on the board as time expired.
Grant finished with 8- yards on 11 carries and Coffee had 62 yards on 16 totes.
Georgia’s offense clicked right out of the gate, efficiently moving 70 yards on its first drive to score the game’s first touchdown. Stafford converted three third-down passes, the last of which went for a 10-yard score to Thomas Brown.
Brown and Moreno tied for the team rushing lead with 74 yards apiece. Brown carried 20 times and Moreno 17.
Stafford finished 19-for-35 for 224 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.