January 11, 2022
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – When Kelee Ringo picked off a pass from Bryce Young in the final minutes of the 2022 National Championship, Lucas Oil Stadium erupted as Ringo took it to the house for a 79-yard touchdown. On the sidelines, Quarterback Stetson Bennett couldn’t control his emotions, as his dream of leading the Bulldogs to its first National Championship since 1980, was realized.
As kids, we all dream about playing in “the big game” and leading our team to victory…being the hero…being The Man. Growing up in Blackshear, GA, Bennett wanted nothing more than to be that man…to be the quarterback that captures the first National Title since the days of Buck Belue and Herschel Walker.
Bennett has spent most of his playing career on the sidelines..under valued, under-sized and under appreciated. That sentiment reverberated throughout the season as the media (even fans) were constantly calling for his replacement. However, The Mailman continued to deliver week after week, as Georgia marched through the regular season, undefeated. To be fair, it wasn’t always pretty.
Bennett toiled in the Georgia system where he started his career as a preferred walk on. After running the scout team, he transferred to a junior college in the hopes of getting his chance. Things were moving along when he was recruited to play at Louisiana. In walks Kirby Smart, with a scholarship offer. When Bennett arrived at Georgia, again, he would find himself buried as Smart kept recruiting over him. However, Bennett stayed and kept pushing.
Fast forward to last night. There were several moments that had Dawgs fans thinking the curse…the dark cloud…was alive and well and Georgia was about to lose another big game to Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. Clinging to a 13-12 at the start of the fourth quarter, things got messy for Bennett and the Dawgs. A controversial call gave Alabama a fumble recovery and great field position. They took advantage as Bryce Young found TE Cameron Latu in the end zone. Alabama touchdown…Alabama lead. Here we go again.
Then something happened. Number 13! Bennett wasn’t going to be the reason the Bulldogs lost this game. So like he had done so many times throughout his playing career, he fought. Pass after pass…reception after reception…Bennett led the charge down the field as time ticked away. Bennett had to do something amazing. So he found Adonai Mitchell 49-yards down field and put the ball in his hands. Advantage Georgia. Bennett would add another short TD pass one possession later. And the rest…well, you know how it ended.
It’s a game and we know it’s a game. However, every once in a while a little magic happens. Greatness is hard to obtain and when you find it, it’s fleeting. For all the world to see, Stetson Bennett found a little bit of greatness and gave us a reminder that dreams do come true. It’s the hardest road to hoe but when you take the Bennett approach, anything is possible.
BY JOHN PETRINI
680 THE FAN