Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
ATLANTA, GA - The Western Division Champion LSU Fighting Tigers traveled to Atlanta to take on the top ranked Georgia Bulldogs for the 2022 SEC Championship on Saturday afternoon.
LSU arrived in Atlanta as a 17 and a half point underdog, with no one giving them much of a chance to take down the mighty Bulldogs.
While Georgia, the defending national champions finished off their second consecutive undefeated regular season and now looked to win the SEC Title and advance to the CFP to repeat as champions, and that they did as they dominated LSU for a 50-30 victory.
After a close, competitive first quarter, the Bulldogs shifted their offense into high gear and had their way with the LSU defense for the remainder of the contest.
The Tigers obviously faced the best team in the nation on Saturday night. Even though they
were outmatched, the Bayou Bengals showed fight and grit, battling to the end.
Hats off to our LSU Fighting Tigers. No one expected this group of young men to have much success
in 2022 and they exceeded any and all expectations to have a very good season. A season that was a lot of fun to watch.
"Congratulations to Kirby Smart and the University of Georgia of being the SEC champs. They were the better football team today. Proud of my team. Proud of the fight that they gave today. We were just a little short." Brian Kelly began his press conference saying. "Some key plays obviously in the game were pivotal. Obviously the special teams play early. Inability to get off the field on third down. Fourth down, a couple opportunities that we had to convert."
"In its totality, you're talking about five or six plays where, look, could have, would have, should have, right? The best team won today. I love the way our guys competed. They fought. That's who they are. That's the identity of this team all year." Kelly added. "Unfortunately we were not clean enough in some of those areas against the No. 1 team in the country. When you're playing the best team in the country for an SEC championship, those things are going to come back and affect the outcome.
But as I told them in the locker room, we've got a great foundation. It's a young football team that will take this lesson and build off of it. So excited to have the opportunity to coach 'em."
It looked like LSU would be the first team to score as they drove 69 yards on 14 plays, but the
Bulldogs took advantage of a LSU special teams mistake.
Damian Ramos' field goal attempt was blocked and Christopher Smith of Georgia picked up the ball and raced 96 yards for a touchdown.
None of the LSU players reacted to the blocked ball, as they began to leave the field allowing the Bulldogs the easy score.
The LSU offense returned to the field and answered the Georgia score in explosive fashion. Jayden Daniels found Kayshon Boutte on a crossing route, which he turned into a beautiful 53 yard touchdown. It took LSU only three plays to go 75 yards for the score. 7-7 with 2:21 left in the first quarter.
The sleeping giant Georgia offense suddenly became fully awake, driving 75 yards in seven plays to regain the lead 14-7 on a three yard touchdown pass from Stetson Bennett to Brock Bowers.
Things for LSU went from bad to worse to start the second quarter when a Daniels pass that was intended for Jack Bech was batted into the air, bounced off of Bech's helmet and was intercepted by Smael Mondon Jr. at the LSU 22 yard line.
On the very next play, Bennet found Ladd McConkey in the end zone for the score. The 22 yard touchdown pass put the top ranked Bulldogs up, 21-7 with 14:43 left in the first half.
The Bulldogs continued to poor it on, scoring twice more on their next two possessions to take
a commanding 35-7 lead with 32 seconds left in the first half.
Georgia easily moved the ball 76 yards in 13 plays with Bennet finishing off the drive with a 14
yard touchdown pass to Darnell Washington.
After a quick LSU three and out, the Bulldogs flexed their muscles once more, quickly driving 55 yards on only five plays. culminating with a three yard touchdown pass from Bennett to Dillon Bell.
The Bayou Bengals would take over with 32 seconds left on the clock and drive 51 yards in seven plays to have Damian Ramos kick a 42 yard field goal on the final play of the half. 35-10, Georgia at the break.
Garrett Nussmeier would start the second half for the Tigers and lead the offense to a quick score, driving 57 yards in only three plays, as Nussmeier hit Malik Nabers on a 34 yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 35-17 with 10:33 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs continued to run right at the LSU defense, powering their way down the field to extend the lead to 42-17 with 3:32 left in the quarter. The score ended an eight play, 95 yard drive, as Kenny McIntosh punched it in from two yards out.
LSU's offense had no quit in them, as they drove 65 yards on four plays on their next possession, with Noah Cain scoring from one yard out. The two point conversion failed as the score now stood at 42-23 as the third quarter came to an end.
The Bulldogs would add their final score of the contest early in the fourth quarter on an eight
yard touchdown run by Kenny McIntosh as Georgia lead 50-23 with 13:13 left on the clock.
The LSU offense was able to find the end zone one more time at the 7:12 mark when Nussmeier found Jaray Jenkins for a 33 yard touchdown pass on fourth and ten.
With the disappointing defeat, the Tigers are now 9-4 on the season and will wait to find out their bowl game destination and opponent.
Photos Below By: Michael Bacigalupi
Photos Below By: David Chivatero
Photos Below By: Jonathan Mailhes
*John 14:6 - "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (Give your life to Jesus)