After tying the game early in the first quarter, the Tigers found themselves down in a hurry and were unable to rally in a 50-30 loss in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
After the two teams traded punts to start the game, LSU appeared to be primed to get on the scoreboard as a promising drive ended in the red zone. The Tigers came out for a 32-yard field goal by Damian Ramos but it was blocked and returned for a touchdown by Georgia.
LSU needed only three plays to respond as Jayden Daniels found former Westgate High star Kayshon Boutte for a 53-yard touchdown.
Georgia would seize control of the game in the next few minutes.
The Bulldogs first went 75 yards on seven plays as Stetson Bennett threw a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end, Brock Bowers. Georgia’s defense then forced a turnover as Smael Mondon Jr. picked off Daniels’ deflected pass and gave the Bulldogs the ball at the 22-yard line. Bennett promptly threw a 22-yard touchdown to Ladd McConkey.
After having a field goal hit the uprights, Georgia would add two more touchdowns in the first half with Bennett throwing a 14-yard TD to Darnell Washington and a three-yard TD to Dillon Bell.
LSU did manage to add a 42-yard field goal by Ramos before halftime but still trailed 35-10 at the break.
The Tigers came out strong to start the second half as Jaquelin Roy recovered a Bennett fumble and then Garrett Nussmeier — who was playing for Daniels who left the game with an injury — threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to former Comeaux High star Malik Nabers.
Georgia’s defense would rip the momentum right back as the Bulldogs stood up Josh Williams on a fourth and one at the UGA five-yard line. Georgia only needed eight plays to go 95 yards as the Bulldogs capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown run by Kenny McIntosh.
LSU managed to respond with a 65-yard touchdown drive — highlighted by a 47-yard run by Williams — and capped with a one-yard touchdown run by Noah Cain. With 1:46 left in the third, the Tigers trailed the Bulldogs 42-23.
After Georgia scored another touchdown — this one an eight-yard run by McIntosh, the Bulldogs’ defense ended the Tigers’ next drive as Christopher Smith picked off Nussmeier in the end zone.
LSU’s defense forced Georgia to punt and then the Tigers’ offense put together another scoring drive.
Nussmeier guided LSU’s offense 83 yards in only 1:55 and finished off the drive with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Jaray Jenkins. That proved to be the final score for the Tigers as the Bulldogs held on for a 20-point victory.
BIG NUMBER: 502
With its running game held in check, LSU attacked Georgia’s defense with its passing attack as Daniels and Nussmeier combined to throw for 502 yards and three passing touchdowns in the loss.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME: MALIK NABERS & KAYSHON BOUTTE
The former Acadiana-area prep stars gave the Tigers a spark in Saturday’s championship game. Nabers had five receptions for 128 yards and one touchdown while Boutte had six catches for 107 yards and one touchdown.
UP NEXT: LSU (9-4) will find out what bowl game it is playing in on Sunday afternoon.