The 2021 Peach Bowl nearly ended with another SEC team being upset in Atlanta. However, the Georgia Bulldogs would complete the climb back to defeat the Cincinnati Bearcats 24-21. The game was one of the most exciting and entertaining in recent history. Both teams had moments of brilliance on both sides of the ball, but ultimately Georgia Defeats Cincinnati to win the 2021 Peach Bowl and were able to take home the hardware at the end of the game.
The first half of this game had it all. Overall, both teams played well on both sides of the ball, making for a very entertaining game. Georgia’s first two drives ended in poor punts from All-American Jake Camarda. The second punt attempt was particularly poor and only ended up four yards downfield. The Bearcats would ultimately cap off the drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Desmond Ridder to Alec Pierce.
The next Georgia possession would end in an interception from Coby Bryant. The Bearcats took over at their own one-yard line. After a three-and-out, Georgia was able to get good field position on the end of a punt. They would capitalize on that field position with a great drive. Ultimately, JT Daniels would find George Pickens for a 16-yard touchdown pass.
Going into the second quarter, things would continue to be hotly contested. The next major event took place with six and a half minutes left in the half. Cincinnati would attempt a field goal attempt, but Jordan Davis would get a mitt on it to block it. Georgia would go down the field and Jack Podlesny would hit a 37-yarder to take a 10-7 lead.
That lead would be short-lived, however, as the Bearcats would capitalize on the next drive. Cincinnati marched 75 yards in 9 plays to take a 14-10 lead on a spectacular diving catch from Josh Whyle. Two plays earlier, junior offensive lineman James Hudson had been ejected for targeting following a late hit. The loss of Hudson is significant for the Bearcats, as Georgia had already been getting pressure with the experienced Hudson still in.
It did not take long at all to see the first big play of the second half. On the first play of the first drive, the Georgia defense came up big to force a four-yard loss on a screen pass. However, on the very next play, Jerome Ford found some blocks and took the handoff 79 yards to make it a 21-10 ball game. That would be the only score of the third quarter for either team.
The real story of the third quarter was squandered opportunities for Georgia. In a game where the Bulldogs looked like the superior team, they seemed to constantly shoot themselves in the foot. Of the three third-quarter possessions for the SEC representative, one ended in a fumble after converting on fourth, one ended in a turnover on downs and one ended with a punt.
The momentum began to swing in the fourth quarter. Azeez Ojulari put a big hit on Ridder on the third play of the quarter to knock the ball loose. Two plays later, Zamir White would punch it in to cut the deficit to just 21-16. Georgia’s defense had been noticeably fired up ever since that long touchdown run, but after the strip-sack, they seemed to hit another gear as they flew around the field.
The offense also seemed to feel that momentum shift after their first second-half touchdown. On their very next possession, they were able to drive it down into the red zone before a couple of bad plays forced the Bulldogs to settle for a field goal to trim the game down to 21-19 with less than nine minutes to go.
The two teams would trade the ball back and forth once again. Georgia would get the ball back with less than 90 seconds left in the game. Daniels would lead a drive down the field and set up Podlesny for a 53-yard attempt with just seven seconds left. The kicker would come through with his longest career field goal to put the Bulldogs ahead. Georgia would cap the game off with another Ojulari sack, this time to put two more points on the board with a safety.
The 2021 Peach Bowl was easily one of, if not the best bowl games this season. From the first kickoff to the final whistle, both teams fought their hardest and it came down to the wire. Cincinnati played a hard-fought game and took Georgia all the way to their limit before coming up just short. The Bulldogs did a great job of grabbing the momentum after a gut punch to start the second half and then not giving it up for the remainder of the game. The loss means that the Bearcats still do not have an undefeated season. Going forward, both Georgia and Cincinnati have a shot at putting in some really good performances next season.