Fake punt gave Georgia early momentum

jheeter@macon.comDecember 1, 2012 

ATLANTA -- Nick Saban pulled out his trick first.

But Mark Richt one-upped the Alabama head coach with a trick play of his own a little later that gave Georgia the early momentum Saturday in the SEC championship game. Alabama eventually won the game 32-28 and likely will earn a spot opposite Notre Dame in the BCS championship game.

The Bulldogs called a fake-punt pass from tight end Arthur Lynch to cornerback Sanders Commings to extend a drive on the first play of the second quarter. Georgia scored two plays later on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Murray to Jay Rome, giving the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead.

“It’s just something we practiced,” Georgia safety Alec Ogletree said. “Coach told us when we got to certain part of the field we were going to run it. He called it, and we executed it.”

The Bulldogs stole the first real momentum of the game with the fake and the subsequent touchdown.

Neither team could get much of a foothold in the first scoreless first quarter in SEC championship game history.

The Crimson Tide, however, looked like they had that boost when they successfully executed a fake punt in the first quarter.

Saban called a snap to the upback, who rushed for the first down to the Georgia 40-yard line on fourth-and-1. Alabama didn’t get the snap off in time, however, and the delay of game penalty sent Saban racing on to the field in anger. The mishap forced Alabama to punt.

Georgia got the ball at its own 13, but the Bulldogs moved the ball inside Alabama territory on a 33-yard pass from Murray to Tavarres King. Three plays later after appearing to stall on the drive, the Bulldogs ran their fake punt.

Georgia long-snapper Ty Frix hiked the ball diagonally to Lynch. The junior took two steps forward and tossed the ball to Commings between two defenders. Lynch’s first career pass went for 16 yards to Commings, who made his first career catch.

“We’ve been working on that fake punt for over a month,” Richt said. “It wasn’t designed necessarily for Alabama’s defense. It was just designed against a punt-safe situation.”

The Bulldogs held the lead for 13 minutes before Alabama scored 10 points in the final two minutes of the first half to take a 10-7 halftime lead.

The fake punt wasn’t Georgia’s only big special teams play.

Cornelius Washington blocked a field goal in the third quarter which bounced up to Ogletree, who raced 55 yards for the touchdown. Georgia led 21-10 after the score.

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