College Football around Alabama: Championship Saturday Recap
Championship Saturday provided an opportunity for two in-state teams to clinch conference titles, two more teams to advance in either the FCS or Division II playoffs and the coaching swan song for a former Alabama wide receiver.
Georgia Gets Revenge against Auburn
With a spot in the College Football Playoff on the line, the Georgia Bulldogs put together their best effort of the season in a 28-7 triumph over the Auburn Tigers.
Auburn appeared in control out of the gate as Jarrett Stidham found Nate Craig-Myers on a six-yard scoring pass to complete a 10-play drive to open the game.
Early in the second quarter, Auburn once again drove in the Georgia red zone when Davin Bellamy stripped the ball from Stidham leading to Roquan Smith’s fumble recovery.
Beginning at their own 16 yard line, the Bulldogs marched down the field as Jake Fromm located Isaac Nauta all alone in the end zone to tie the game at 7-7.
With Georgia leading 10-7 in the third quarter, Auburn stalled in the red zone as Daniel Carlson had his 31-yard field goal attempt blocked.
From that point forward, the Bulldogs dominated on both sides of the ball. After Rodrigo Blakenship’s 35-yard field goal in the third quarter, Fromm tossed his second touchdown pass of the day to Terry Godwin from seven yards out while Jonathan Swift capped off the scoring with a 64-yard touchdown run.
After the blocked field goal, Auburn’s offense sputtered to the finish line recording 57 yards in their last 23 plays of the game.
Auburn returns to Atlanta to face UCF on New Year’s Day while Georgia travels west to the Rose Bowl to battle Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff semifinal also on New Year’s Day.
Troy Clinches Share of the Sun Belt
The Troy Trojans clinched a share of the Sun Belt Conference title with a dramatic 32-25 win at Arkansas State.
The two teams traded the lead through most of the game until Marcus Jones returned an interception 100 yards half way through the fourth quarter to give Troy a 24-13 lead.
Arkansas State scored on an 11-yard pass from Justice Hansen to Omar Bayless to cut the deficit to 24-19.
After stopping the Trojans on three plays, the Red Wolves drove 67 yards for the go-ahead score as Hansen hit Christian Booker on a 39-yard scoring strike to claim a 25-24 lead.
Troy took their final possession of the game and drove 72 yards in slightly more than 60 seconds to regain the lead. Quarterback Brandon Silvers connected with Deondre Douglas on a 14-yard pass with 17 seconds left in the game.
With the win, Troy shares the Sun Belt Conference crown with Appalachian State and will go to New Orleans to face North Texas December 16 in the New Orleans Bowl.
Joey Jones Coaches His Final Game at South Alabama
Former Alabama wide receiver Joey Jones coached his final game at South Alabama Saturday as the Jaguars fell 22-17 on the road at New Mexico State.
New Mexico State quarterback Tyler Rogers was 40 of 61 for 451 yards with two touchdowns and an interception including a game-winning seven-yard touchdown pass with 32 seconds to go.
Despite the proficiency in the passing game, the Aggies had to settle for three field goals out of their seven trips in the red zone.
Quarterback Cole Garvin paced the Jaguars with 268 yards passing and a touchdown in the loss.
Joey Jones leaves South Alabama with a 52-50 record after submitting his resignation November 20. The former Alabama standout started the South Alabama football program in 2009 and lead them to bowl appearances in 2014 and 2016.
Jacksonville State and West Alabama Lose at Home in Playoff Action
Both Jacksonville State and West Alabama concluded the 2017 season with upset losses at home.
Jacksonville State fell to Big South Conference champion Kennesaw State 17-7 in the second round of the FCS Playoffs.
The Gamecocks struggled on offense as they recorded 187 yards of total offense including 99 rushing yards for the game.
JSU scored first thanks to a 22-yard touchdown run from Roc Thomas with 4:20 to go until halftime.
Kennesaw State got on the board before halftime as Justin Thompson booted a 25-yard field goal.
The Owls controlled the second half by holding the ball for almost 22 minutes of the half while outgaining the Gamecocks 202-51.
Jacksonville State ends the season 10-2.
West Alabama saw their season come to close in a 28-21 loss to West Florida in the Division II Quarterfinals.
UWA lead 14-7 at halftime but UWF took control of the game with 21 unanswered points in the second half to take a 28-14 advantage.
The Tigers made a desperate rally late in the game as Harry Satterwhite found Tra Fletcher on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 92 seconds remaining in the game. UWA recovered the ensuing on-side kick but could not get a first down on their last drive of the game.
West Alabama finishes the season 10-3.
Troy vs. North Texas (New Orleans Bowl) December 16
UAB vs. Ohio (Bahamas Bowl) December 22
#7 Auburn vs. # UCF (Peach Bowl) January 1
#4 Alabama vs. #1 Clemson (College Football Playoff Semifinal: Sugar Bowl) January 1