ATLANTA — Alabama tailbacks Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon both rushed the Crimson Tide to their third BCS National Championship game in four years.
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy (42) is brought down by Georgia defensive back Damian Swann (5) and safety Bacarri Rambo (18). Lacy and T.J. Yeldon combined for 341 yards in the Crimson Tide's win.
The Tide’s tandem scored three of Alabama’s four touchdowns and churned out a combined 334 yards en route to winning the Southeastern Conference championship on Saturday. Along the way, the duo picked up the record for most rushing yards in an SEC title game.
Alabama showed few signs that a record-setting performance was on tap with its first-half performance other than Lacy’s 41-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Quarterback AJ. McCarron, who had turned the ball over only twice coming into Saturday’s game, fumbled on Alabama’s second drive and threw an interception in the end zone on its fifth.
McCarron, however, said his performance wasn’t the reason the Alabama abandoned the passing game in the second half.
“We were just taking what (Georgia was) giving us,” he said. “We really couldn’t get anything going in the first half (with) our run game. Then in the second half, (Georgia) favored the pass a little more so we were able to get our run game going.”
Alabama was relentless with its ground attack in the final two quarters. Over two separate drives, the Crimson Tide ran the ball 18 of 20 times, including 10 straight times. Those plays accounted for 161 yards.
“We ran it about 10 to 12 times, the same exact play,” Lacy said. “Coach (Nick Saban) wants us to dominate the opponent. It just came down to man on man and who wanted it more.”
Perhaps the most pivotal play of the game came on a third-and-5 with just less than five minutes to play. On what Lacy called an “obvious passing down,” Alabama sent Yeldon up the middle for a 5-yard gain, which positioned the Tide for its next play –– a 45-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to Amari Cooper.
“It made a statement,” Lacy said. “Our offensive line, I can’t praise them enough. They made the holes, even on passing downs, and we ran it.”
Lacy and the Tide found their edge with physicality. The junior tailback said that Georgia’s strong defensive first half provided Alabama with somewhat of a wake-up call heading into the locker room at the break. Responding blow-for-blow, he said, was key.
“(Georgia) let you know that they were there every play, whether you had the ball or not,” he said. “Offensively, we had to come out with the same mindset — just because we play offense doesn’t mean we can’t be physical.”
Lacy attributed many of the hard hits he delivered to Georgia defenders. He will have to do the same next month when he squares off against Notre Dame and its Heisman Trophy candidate linebacker, Manti Te’o.
But Lacy said he hasn’t even pondered the Fighting Irish yet because of the magnitude surrounding Saturday’s game. He said just wanted to soak in the SEC championship and his MVP award that accompanies it. When asked if he could talk about the matchup, Lacy said, “Not yet.”
“We’re not worried about it right now. We’re just celebrating,” he said.