Jones, Bulldogs come up short again in SEC title game

sports@macon.comDecember 1, 2012 

ATLANTA -- It was a similar script on the field for Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones in the SEC championship game Saturday.

There were big plays, there were two sacks, and yes, there was yet another forced fumble.

His downcast eyes and quiet voice in the locker room after the game, however, told a different story.

Despite the numbers, the potential accolades and the attention from professional scouts, Georgia’s 32-28 loss to Alabama left a hole that individual success could not fill.

Still, Jones refused to express his disappointment.

“I was hoping we were going to win,” Jones said with a slight smile when asked what he was thinking at the end of the game. “We came up short. I’m not the type of player to hang my head after a loss. But I know how hard we worked. We worked dang hard.

“I wish we were on the other end, but it came down to a tight battle. I think my teammates and my coaches did a great job staying together.”

If the Bulldogs had found a way to win the game, Jones, who had battled the flu earlier in the week, would have earned a lot of the credit.

Early in the first quarter, he sacked Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Georgia’s Christian Robinson, setting the Bulldogs up at the 40-yard line.

The offense was unable to put any points on the board on the ensuing drive, but it was Jones, once again, establishing momentum on the defensive side of the football.

On the Crimson Tide’s first drive of the third quarter, after Georgia had just taken a 14-10 lead in the game, Jones came up big again, sacking McCarron for a 6-yard loss. Minutes later, the Bulldogs blocked an Alabama field goal attempt and returned it for a touchdown to take a commanding 21-10 lead.

“He gave a great effort,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “He got the ball out early in the game. He’s just a resilient guy. He makes a lot of plays. He’s really the guy that gets the energy up on our defense. I think that’s the mark of a great player, when they can generate energy for your team.”

Still, Georgia’s defense had trouble stopping the run. Tide running back Eddie Lacy carried the ball 20 times for 181 yards and two touchdowns, while T.J. Yeldon had 25 for 154 and a single score.

It was that bruising rushing attack that ultimately undermined Georgia’s hopes of springing the upset.

On one of Lacy’s touchdowns, sophomore tight end Brian Vogler had a key block that helped spring the back down the sideline for 41 yards.

“Those guys made plays,” Jones said of the running backs. “That’s what they do, and they’re good at it. They just made plays.”

With the loss fresh on his mind in perhaps Jones’ final chance at a national title (as a top-rated pro prospect, the junior is likely to enter the NFL draft at the end of the season), the linebacker still praised his coaches and his teammates for giving Georgia a chance at a win late in the game.

“We had a really good shot,” Jones said. “We didn’t capitalize on it and we came up a little bit short. People weren’t even expecting us to be in a contest with them. So, I appreciate how my teammates took on the challenge and played their butts off for 60 minutes.”

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