Keith Brown had best game of 2007
Yes, Alabama football tickets are expensive. But no one can say you don’t get plenty of football for your money. Unfortunately for Crimson Tide fans, on Saturday night the extra plays resulted in disappointment. The Georgia Bulldogs took a 26-23 win over Bama in overtime Saturday night.
The loss was the first of the year for Alabama and the first for the Crimson Tide in the Nick Saban era. Bama fell to 3-1 and is now 2-1 in Southeastern Conference play. Bama has an out-of-conference, neutral site game next weekend against FSU. The Tide and Florida State will play in Jacksonville, Florida. Kickoff time and television coverage for Alabama and the Seminoles will be announced Sunday, but it is expected to be a late kickoff on ESPN. Georgia improved to 3-1 overall and evened its league record at 1-1.
Alabama had its only lead of the game in overtime. After John Parker Wilson scrambled for a game-tying touchdown with 1:09 to play and Leigh Tiffin kicked the extra point to make it 20-20, Bama still had to withstand a final Georgia drive. Regulation ended with Brandon Coutu’s 47-yard field goal missing wide left.
It was a brief delay in heartbreak for Bama. Georgia won the toss for overtime and Alabama started on offense. The effort was far too typical of most Alabama offensive possessions on the evening. A run gained nothing and two passes were incomplete. Tiffin connected on a 42-yard field goal to give Alabama its only lead of the night at 23-20.
That advantage lasted only as long as it took the Georgia offense to get lined up and run one play. Bulldogs quarterback Matthew Stafford found his wide receiver, Mikey Henderson, behind the Bama secondary at the flag to end the game.
After winning the toss to start the game and electing to receive the opening kickoff, Georgia had no trouble on its first possession. The Bulldogs didn’t have any luck running, but Matthew Stafford had no problems picking up plenty of yardage on passes -- particularly screen passes. The eight play, 70-yard drive included one 18-yard pass gain on a play that seemed to be in trouble on the first play. Thereafter, the yardage ws gained on three screen passes, including the scoring pass. On third and eight from the 10, Stafford hit Thomas Brown who went into the end zone untouched just five and a half minutes into the game.
Alabama’s defense wasn’t the only aspect of Tide football to get off to a slow start. Although Terry Grant had a 21-yard run on Bama’s first offensive play, John Parker Wilson had two incompletions around a short pass to Grant. And on fourth down, punter P.J. Fitzpatrick shanked one for only 25 yards.
Georgia had a third and long from the 40 and Ezekial Knight put pressure on Stafford. A poor pass was picked off by Lionel Mitchell. A penalty on the return had Bama starting at its 39. Again, the Tide couldn’t move and had to punt it away.
A 31-yard Georgia punt early in the second quarter gave Bama the ball at its 26. A pass to Mike McCoy got a first down to the Bama 38, then Wilson hit D.J. Hall for a 20-yard gain to the Georgia 39. Grant got six yards, but then a pass was knocked down. On third down, Glen Coffee ran at left tackloe and came up just short of a first down at the 30. On fourth down Alabama attempted to pass, but all receivers got held up at the line and Wilson had no one to throw to. The ball went over to Georgia.
The Bulldogs marched deep into Tide territory before a couple of Georgia penalties stopped the drive. Brandon Coutu was called on for a 45-yard field goal try and he drilled it, giving the Dogs a 10-0 lead witth 6:21 to play in the first half.
At that point, Georgia had 33 plays for 166 yards and Bama 16 plays for 75 yards.
On two consecutive possessions late in the first half, Alabama threw third down completions that were short of first down yardage, forcing punts.
Alabama got the ball back on its 30 with 39 seconds left. A pass to McCoy gained 14 yards. then Georgia was hit with a 15-yard penalty to put the Tide at the Georgia 40. A couple of quick passes got the ball to the 30 and then the drive stalled. Wilson missed Caddell in the end zone with 11 seconds to play. The Tide then threw to McCoy again to the 23. On the final play of the half, Leigh Tiffin hit a 40-yard field goal.
Bama being down by only 10-3 at halftime had to be discouraging to the Bulldogs, who had clearly out-played the Tide throughout the first two quarters. By halftime Alabama had cut the total offense discrepency. Georgia had 39 plays for 183 yards and the Tide had 31 plays for 145 yards.
Things did not start well for Alabama in the second half, but Bama dodged a bullet. On the second half kickoff, Jonathan Lowe fumbled and Georgia recovered at the Tide 27. A great play by Knight on first down led to an eventual 50-yard field goal attempt that was missed. Alabama started at the Georgia 32.
The Bama offense reverted to ineffectiveness and the punt coverage team gave up along return. Punter Fitzpatrick had to make the tackle as Georgia set up at its 45. A holding penalty set the Bulldogs back, and on second and long Stafford’s pass was picked by Bama’s Rashad Johnson. He returned it 26 yards to the Georgia 37.
Two Grant runs set up first and goal at the Geoirgia one. Alabama went to a (dare we say it?) jumbo package with B.J. Stabler at one right end, along with Nick Walker, and tight end Travis McCall in the slot and fullback Baron Huber in front of tailback Glen Coffee. A quarterback sneak and Tiffin’s extra point tied the game at 10-10 with 10:15 to play.
Georgia regained the lead, 17-10, at 6:08 with a drive that included a 34-yard pass from Stafford to Sean Bailey and a pass interference call that set up the Bulldogs with a first and goal at the six. Knowshon Moreno ran it in for the touchdown, completing a nine-play, 73-yard drive.
At the end of the third quarter, the Bulldogs maintained that 17-10 lead.
Five plays and two and a half minutes into the fourth quarter, Georgia had a 10-point lead as Coutu was good on a 47-yard field goal.
Wilson finally got a big completion as on second and long he connected over the middle with Keith Brown for 22 yards to the Georgia 49. Coffee picked up eight yards. Wilson just missed McCoy at the goalline before Coffee got the first down at the Georgia 37. Georgia was offsides and penalized four yards. Coffee ran it to within inches of a first down on first down. But on second down and the clock running, Coffee was caught for a two-yard loss. Then hurrying to get the play off, Wilson fell down for a five-yard loss at the Georgia 34. It was fourth-and-five. A pass for Hall was incomplete, but the Bulldogs were guilty of pass interference.
Bama had first down at the Georgia 28. It appeared the Tide had taken great advantage of the situation with a pass to Hall inside the 10, but Hall was ruled out of bounds. However, on review the call was reversed and Bama had first down at the Georgia seven with 7:59 to play. Two runs gained two yards and then Wilson missed on a pass. With 6:30 to play in the game Tiffin kicked a 23-yard field goal to pull the Tide to within a touchdown.
That strategy paid off. Alabama forced a Georgia punt and with 4:44 to play Bama had the ball on its 12-yard line. After an incompletion, Wilson connected with Brown on a 43-yard gain to the Georgia 45-yard line. Alabama rotated Glen Coffee and Roy Upchurch in the backfield with Grant. On first down Coffee got five yards, then Upchurch got the first down at the Georgia 31. Grant got five yards, then Coffee back-to-back three-yard runs for a first down at the Georgia 19. Wilson hit McCoy on an 11-yard gain, but the play was wiped out by a penalty against Alabama for a receiver being in an ineligible position.
Wilson then hit Brown for eight yards to the Georgia 16. On second-and-seven Upchurch gained 10 yards on a draw play. Wilson then scrambled into the end zone with 1:09 to play.
Georgia started at its 34 after the kickoff and moved to the Alabama 30. Stafford completed a fourth-and-two for 11 yards to Trip Chandler to set up what could have been the game-winner by Coutou.