Georgia found a grander dose of offensive wizardry late on its next drive. Bennett, a few steps behind the 50, unleashed a throw with enough of an arc for George Pickens, a wide receiver, to have time to swivel back toward the thicket he had fled and search for the ball. He leapt, grasped and then landed on his back, the ball 37 yards closer to an interim prize.
A 5-yard touchdown catch two plays later by Darnell Washington gave Georgia a 10-point lead — the kind of deficit that Nick Saban’s Alabama had only sporadically faced.
Yet the Tide’s Jameson Williams lurked, his fearsome speed twitching within just a week after his ejection for targeting on a punt during the rivalry game at Auburn. On third down, with Alabama on its own 33, he raced toward midfield, into the crook of the “C” on the SEC logo.
Bryce Young, the quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender, looked for an option and a hope.
Williams’s eyes lurched from backfield to end zone as the ball arrived. He cut across the turf, steering toward the goal line’s left pylon. A defensive back gave chase but could be forgiven for concluding by about the 15, and quite possibly sooner, that it would be a fruitless pursuit.
He was a few yards behind as Williams rolled in for a touchdown. Williams had gone 67 yards on the play, more than Alabama’s offensive production in the whole of the first quarter. The entire possession had lasted 44 seconds.
The two-score game had shriveled to one.
Georgia responded with a three-and-out.
And so not even 90 seconds after it had started to silence much of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, about 70 miles from Georgia’s campus, Alabama’s offense swaggered back to the field beneath the bright lights.
Alabama seized 63 yards in short order. Georgia’s defensive fortress tried to regroup, though it crumbled anew after stopping just one rushing attempt.