DJ Daniel and Mark Webb weren’t having it.
Down by six points, Notre Dame had one last chance to win Saturday’s game in Sanford Stadium. On fourth down with less than a minute to play, Daniel and Webb broke up Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book’s pass inside the 20-yard line to secure Georgia's 23-17 win.
Two possessions earlier, it was J.R. Reed who made the big play to deny Notre Dame’s offense.
Georgia owned a 20-10 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Book had just completed a 20-yard reception to Tommy Tremble. If the Fighting Irish were to score a touchdown on the drive, there was no telling how the game would end.
Notre Dame tried a flea flicker. It didn’t work.
Reed, a senior safety for Georgia, cut in front of a pass from Ian Book, snagged the ball and got his feet in-bounds to help secure the win for the Bulldogs on Saturday night.
"[Reed] was the human eraser," Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. "He had two or three or plays that were going to be explosive plays. He gets a guy on the ground that was about to break out and bust the coverage. Then he makes the pick that really changed the whole environment of the game."
Two drives later, Notre Dame had a chance to win the game. It got within one touchdown.
Georgia’s comeback from a poor first half started with a seven-play, 53-yard drive on the legs of junior running back D’Andre Swift, who finished the game as Georgia’s leading rusher.
The Bulldogs scored again thanks to graduate transfer receiver Lawrence Cager, who recorded three straight catches, including a 15-yard touchdown.
The offensive barrage was paired with a defense that got itself together in time to give the Bulldogs the victory. In the first half, Georgia allowed 117 passing yards. The Irish had 163 total yards in the first-half compared to the Bulldogs’ 114 yards.
Georgia also had a few miscues early in the game that hindered its ability to score. It started with Tyler Simmons’ muffed punt inside the Georgia’s 10-yard line. Notre Dame capitalized on Chase Claypool’s fumble recovery when Ian Book connected with tight end Cole Kmet on fourth-and-1.
Justin Shaffer, who replaced injured left guard Solomon Kindley, had a 15-yard personal foul penalty in the third quarter that negated D’Andre Swift’s 8-yard reception. Georgia had to settle for a field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship.
The second half was a different story. Georgia found its groove, turning bad miscues into big plays. Despite giving up a touchdown pass to Claypool at the end of the fourth quarter, the defense was able to limit Notre Dame for the most part. In the third quarter, the Irish only had 19 total yards.
A successful flea flicker could have been the beginning of a far different ending. Reed made sure that didn’t happen.
Two possessions later, Daniel and Webb did the same. Despite a solid effort, Notre Dame wasn’t getting the win in front of the largest crowd in Sanford Stadium history.