TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Mac Jones passed for 417 yards and four touchdowns and No. 2 Alabama’s aerial assault picked apart No. 3 Georgia’s heralded defense in the second half of a 41-24 victory Saturday night.
The Crimson Tide (4-0), with coach Nick Saban stalking the sideline after a COVID-19 scare, rallied with three touchdowns in a 10-minute span starting late in the third quarter of a battle of the Southeastern Conference’s last remaining unbeatens.
The nation’s top scoring offense ultimately got the decisive upper hand in a battle with the Bulldogs (3-1) and one of the nation’s best defenses.
“This was an obvious great win against a very, very good football team,” said Saban, who was cleared early in the day after a false COVID positive. “I was very proud of the way our guys fought in the game.
“I sort of knew it was going to be a 15-round fight and we wouldn’t be winning until the late rounds.”
Georgia had no answer for Jones and star receivers Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith, especially with Alabama’s own beleaguered defense grabbing two second-half interceptions and three overall.
Smith caught 11 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns, including one in the fourth quarter that effectively put it out of reach.
Waddle caught a 90-yard touchdown pass and gained 161 yards on six catches.
Then there was some old-school ground and pound too. Harris gained 152 yards on 31 carries with a touchdown during that game-clinching span. He did it against the nation’s top run defense, which came in allowing 38 rushing yards and 12.3 points per game.
Stetson Bennett completed 18 of 40 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns, including an 82-yarder to James Cook. But he threw three interceptions.
Bennett was angry with himself over his mistakes, especially that final interception throwing across his body, calling it “just stupid.”
“I was frustrated with myself,” the former walk-on said.
Alabama got a boost about seven hours before the game when the SEC cleared coach Saban to return to business of usual, determining a Wednesday COVID test was a false positive. He tested negative Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
A maskless Saban was yelling at a referee after an intentional grounding call in the second quarter.
The Tide has won the last six meetings with Georgia, including a 3-0 record against Saban’s former defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. The first two came in the January 2018 national championship game and the SEC championship game the following season.