Georgia vs. Ohio State score: Dawgs keep title defense alive with gutsy College Football Playoff comeback

ATLANTA -- No. 1 Georgia stared defeat in the face for much of the 2022 Peach Bowl before rallying late for a stunning 42-41 win over No. 4 Ohio State in the College Football Playoff semifinal. The victory sends the defending champion Bulldogs to the CFP National Championship where they will face No. 3 TCU on Monday, Jan. 9 in Inglewood, California.

Ohio State kicker Noah Ruggles missed a 50-yard field goal attempt with 3 seconds left to seal the outcome after the Buckeyes drove into position for a potential game-winning attempt in the final minute following a heroic go-ahead drive from Georgia.

The Buckeyes led 38-24 early in the fourth quarter and had a chance to retake a two-possession lead with under 4 minutes remaining when the Bulldogs defense came up with a huge stand that forced Ohio State settle for a field goal that made it 41-35 with 2:43 left.

From there, Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV led a drive for the ages to keep the Dawgs unbeaten. Bennett hit Adonai Mitchell for a 10-yard touchdown with 54 seconds remaining to give Georgia its first lead since the second quarter.

Ohio State had two timeouts remaining and enough to time get into field goal range. It did exactly that despite navigating the fourth quarter without leading wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., who exited late in the third quarter following a big hit in the end zone.

The Buckeyes scored more against the Dawgs than any other team this season but ultimately came up just short in a gutsy bid for redemption following an embarrassing loss to Michigan to close the regular season.

'The Mailman' delivers

Stroud outplayed Bennett for much of the night, and was absolutely spectacular for the Buckeyes both with his arm and legs. But when it mattered most, Bennett came up with another storybook moment for his fairytale career. The former walk-on, who famously took a detour through junior college before returning for a second stint with the Bulldogs, delivered the largest fourth-quarter comeback in CFP history.

The Bulldogs outscored Ohio State 18-3 in the final 15 minutes as Bennett completed 10 of 12 passes in the frame. He found Arian Smith wide open for a 76-yard touchdown to make it 38-35 midway through the quarter, and then completed 5 of 5 passes on the go-ahead drive that concluded with his strike to Mitchell. Bennett finished 23 of 34 for 398 yards with three touchdowns, an interception and a rushing touchdown while earning the game's MVP honors.

Huge stands when it mattered most

Georgia entered with the nation's No. 2 scoring defense, allowing just 12.8 points per game -- yet the Buckeyes scored 28 in the first half alone. When the chips were down, however, Georgia came up with some key stops. Oddly enough, a timeout from Georgia coach Kirby Smart with 8:58 remaining may have helped save the game for the Dawgs.

Facing a fourth-and-1 at their own 34-yard line, the Buckeyes lined up to punt before executing a successful fake. However, as the play unfolded, it became clear that Smart had called a timeout just before the snap. The Georgia staff had sniffed out the fake just in time, and the Buckeyes indeed opted to punt after the timeout.

Bennett's 76-yard strike to Smith ensued on the first play of UGA's next drive. On Ohio State's next possession, the Buckeyes faced a second-and-5 at the Georgia 18-yard line and were moving the football well with a chance to take a 45-35 lead. The Bulldogs dialed up the pressure and sacked Stroud for a loss of 12. Ohio State wound up settling for a field goal, which left the door open for Bennett and the Georgia offense.

Key injuries for both teams

Ohio State tight end Cade Stover left the game and was taken to a local hospital due to back spasms after tallying one catch for 7 yards. The senior entered with 35 receptions for 399 yards and five touchdowns. Late in the third quarter, Harrison Jr. took a big hit in the back of the end zone and needed medical attention on the field. He did not return after collecting five catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns. His absence hindered the Buckeyes as Stroud tried to position his team for a game-winning score in the final minute.

Though Georgia got Mitchell back for the game after he missed much of the season due to injury, the Bulldogs quickly lost another top target when Darnell Washington exited in the first half and did not return. The hulking junior tight end made one catch for 9 yards before his departure. His status will loom large for the College Playoff National Championship, as will the status of wide receiver Ladd McConkey, who played while clearly hobbled with a knee injury.

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Legendary game

Final: Georgia 42, Ohio State 41

Noah Ruggles pulls a 50-yard attempt in the final seconds, and Georgia escapes with a wild victory. The Bulldogs' game-winning drive in the final minutes will go down in program lore if UGA can defend its national title with a win over TCU next Monday night. Hats off to Ohio State and C.J. Stroud, who was spectacular. Stetson Bennett and the Dawgs were fortunate to find their way to a win after trailing by 14 in the fourth quarter.

January 1, 2023, 5:04 AM
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Bulldogs take the lead

Stetson Bennett finds AD Mitchell for a go-ahead touchdown with 54 seconds left. 42-41 Georgia but enough time for Ohio State to get in position for a game-winning field goal. Buckeyes have two timeouts remaining. 

January 1, 2023, 4:48 AM

Huge stop

Georgia brought the pressure on 2nd-and-5 and sacked Stroud for a loss of 12 to set up a third-and-long. A touchdown would have been catastrophic for Georgia. Instead the Buckeyes settle for a 48-yard field goal to make it a 41-35 game with 2:43 remaining. Bulldogs' defense did their part. Now it's on the offense to go make a game-winning drive.

January 1, 2023, 4:43 AM
@OhioStateFB via Twitter
January 1, 2023, 4:43 AM

CJ Stroud's legs

Stroud isn't known as a runner, but he's come up with some big plays using his legs in this game. Just picked up a first down with a 17-yard scramble that showcased his speed and elusiveness in a way we don't often see. Buckeyes knocking on the door of the red zone here while up 38-35.

January 1, 2023, 4:34 AM

Wide open ... we got a game

Georgia forced a punt and, on the first play of the series, Stetson Bennett IV hit Arian Smith for a 76-yard touchdown after the defender fell down in coverage. Georgia's two-point conversion attempt was good, and the Bulldogs trail 38-35 midway through the final frame. It's a momentum game, and it's all on Georgia's side. 


Georgia settles for a FG

Officials overturned a fourth-and-6 stop by Ohio State when it was ruled that Brock Bowers made the line to gain. However, a dropped backward pass and an incompletion into double coverage by Stetson Bennett IV on fourth-and-goal forced the Bulldogs to settle for a field goal after a 12-play drive. It's an 11-point game, and the drive of the evening is coming up.

@OhioStateFB via Twitter
January 1, 2023, 4:11 AM

Georgia's top receivers are MIA

Tight end Brock Bowers has one catch for 17 yards and wide receiver Ladd McConkey has two catches for negative-1 yard. If you're looking for a reason why Georgia's offense has struggled on third down ... that's it.

@OhioStateFB via Twitter
January 1, 2023, 3:48 AM

Statement drive

Ohio State forced a Georgia punt on the opening drive of the second half, and the Buckeyes offense cashed in the stop for six. CJ Stroud found Emeka Egbuka for a 10-yard score to make it an 11-point game, 35-24. Georgia simply can't stop Stroud. He has been picking apart a defense that has essentially played soft zone for the majority of the game. Georgia is going to have to change it up otherwise this is going to get ugly.

@OhioStateFB via Twitter
January 1, 2023, 3:31 AM
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