INDIANAPOLIS – Alabama entered the national championship game with only one of its two best-performing receivers this season. Jameson Williams was just starting out, but John Metchie III was out of uniform after suffering a torn ACL at the SEC championship last month against Georgia.
Heading into Monday night’s game, Williams and Metchie accounted for 56 percent of Alabama’s receiving yards.
Alabama lost the second half of its dynamic receiving duo late in the second quarter. Williams suffered a non-contact knee injury on a 40-yard pass play and never returned.
MORE: Jameson Williams injury update
It was a heartbreaking ending for the transfer of Ohio State, who became a star in Tuscaloosa and was one of the keys to Alabama’s victory over Georgia in the SEC championship game. The partisan crowd fell silent as he fell, then joined in to give him a loud standing ovation as he left the field. He heard from the Alabama faithful when he returned to the locker room for further evaluation.
Before Williams left the game, he had 65 yards on four catches, leading Alabama at the time. He also had the longest play at the time with his 40-yard catch. That play led to a field goal that gave Alabama a 6-3 lead.
“Losing someone like J-Mo is tough,” Alabama quarterback Bryce Young said at the postgame news conference. “But that’s been a theme for us: overcoming adversity. A lot of guys stepped up at a great time, and those guys we were used to. And I’m tremendously proud of how we played offensively, how people stepped up. in front”.
Young did the best he could to adjust, finishing with 369 passing yards, but the Tide was ultimately outmatched by Georgia in the fourth quarter and fell 33-18. The game was sealed when, one play after Alabama dropped a possible first-down reception within Georgia’s 20-yard line, Young threw an interception that was returned 79 yards by Kelee Ringo.
Throughout the game, Young sought out tight end Cameron Latu more. Latu finished the night with 102 receiving yards and Alabama’s only touchdown. Latu’s highest night of reception for the season prior to Monday night was 58 yards in November.
Agiye Hall, who previously had 20 receiving yards this season, finished with 52 yards on two receptions. Hall had a 28-yard reception on Alabama’s nine-play drive early in the third quarter, which also ended with a field goal.
MORE: Alabama vs. Georgia final score, results
Traeshon Holden (28 yards), Brian Robinson Jr. (28 yards), Ja’Corey Brooks (47 yards) and Slade Bolden (48 yards) also helped Alabama move the ball. Young just couldn’t do anything in the red zone.
As for the players who stepped up, Tide coach Nick Saban thought their experience in the game will help them improve for the upcoming season.
“I think it will help you a lot [heading into next season]”Saban said.” I think these kinds of experiences are invaluable in terms of: the difficult thing is that we played against some guys tonight who didn’t play much during the season. So they didn’t have a lot of experience going in. They had a few chances and they made a few plays. And I’m sure that will help your confidence. And they will grow and learn from this. And it will be a positive experience for them and their development in the future. “
Young led Alabama to a 17-play, 7½-minute drive in the third, moving the team from their 2-yard line to Georgia’s 30-yard line. The series finally ended with a blocked field goal attempt.
Alabama has rushed 27 plays for 139 yards in its last two drives and has three points to show for it.
Georgia 13, Alabama 12 with 12:59 left in the fourth quarter.
—Bill Bender (@ BillBender92) January 11, 2022
Young passed Georgia’s Stetson Bennett in the air by 145 yards, but only threw a touchdown pass. And Young was tackled for loss on a two-point attempt after his touchdown. Alabama couldn’t beat Georgia’s defense: Young threw two interceptions and was sacked four times.
“It’s up to me to do better,” Young said. “People stepped up in the big moments when they were supposed to. And we had opportunities, we had opportunities. And at the end of the day I didn’t get the ball into the end zone. And that’s up to me.”
MORE: Alabama, OSU, Georgia Lead Top 25 Too Soon
Young’s touchdown pass Monday night was his lowest point of the season. The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner threw 45 total touchdowns before the championship game. He threw three touchdowns when Alabama played Georgia in the SEC championship last month.
After Alabama’s only touchdown, Georgia scored 20 unanswered points to take the national title. Alabama’s last three drives resulted in a three-and-out drive for minus 2 yards, the pick-six and a seven-play, 16-yard drive as time ran out.
Williams, who is a junior, has not declared for the NFL Draft, and it’s unclear what role his injury will play in that decision.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.