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Friday’s college football: Georgia gives Cincinnati first loss in dramatic Peach Bowl

Associated Press

Atlanta – Jack Podlesny told Georgia coaches before Friday’s Peach Bowl that he felt confident attempting field goals from as long as 55 yards – a full 4 yards past his career best.

Podlesny made good on his claim, kicking a 53-yard field goal with three seconds remaining, and No. 11 Georgia handed No. 6 Cincinnati its only loss of the season with a dramatic 24-21 victory in the Peach Bowl.

Podlesny dropped to one knee following the career-long kick as his teammates surged onto the field. Asked what he was thinking while he was kneeling, Podlesny said he wanted to “try to remember why I’m here. … God is good and it’s amazing to be here.”

Georgia kicker Jack Podlesny (96) reacts to his game-winning 53-yard field goal with three seconds remaining.

Georgia trailed 21-10 in the fourth quarter, but its defense clamped down on Desmond Ridder and Cincinnati and JT Daniels helped rally the Bulldogs with his arm. Daniels, a Southern California transfer, passed for 392 yards while improving to a perfect 4-0 in four starts for Georgia.

Podlesny’s winning kick tied a Peach Bowl record for longest field goal and gave Georgia a 22-21 lead. Azeez Ojulari sacked Ridder for a safety on the final play. It was Ojulari’s third sack. Georgia tied a school record with eight sacks.

Ridder completed 24 of 37 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. Jerome Ford added a career-long 79-yard touchdown run early in the second half but it wasn’t enough for the Bearcats.

Cincinnati (9-1, No. 8 CFP) was motivated to use the Peach Bowl to gain national respect. Coach Luke Fickell said the game was a measuring stick for his team.

“We’re not there yet,” Fickell said. “That’s what keeps motivating you, and I think that, you know, there’s a lot of things we’re going to take from this that we know we can do.”

Georgia (8-2, No. 9 CFP) won despite running for only 45 yards.

“I would feel much better if we just played our best game,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “I don’t think we played our best game. I want to give Cincinnati credit for that. They created some of that.”

On Georgia’s final play before the decisive field goal, Daniels attempted a deep pass that fell incomplete. Asked why he didn’t try a shorter pass that might have made the kick more manageable, Smart said: “I felt comfortable with where he was that he would have the leg strength to get there.”

He was right.

Ridder threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Alec Pierce in the first quarter and added an 11-yard scoring pass to Josh Wyle late in the first half.

“We’ve been ready to play this game for a long time,” Ridder said. “It’s just, you know, disappointing, obviously, the way it ended.”

Daniels overcame an interception and a lost fumble to lead the comeback.

Georgia’s defense helped fuel the rally. Ridder fumbled on a sack by Ojulari, and Adam Anderson recovered at the Bearcats 25. Zamir White’s 9-yard TD run trimmed Cincinnati’s lead to 21-16.

Citrus Bowl

No. 15 Northwestern 35, Auburn 19: Peyton Ramsey threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score and Northwestern’s defense made it stand up against Auburn.

Ramsey, a graduate transfer, had 291 yards passing and 50 yards rushing to help Northwestern (7-2) win its fourth straight bowl game. Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Brown, John Raine and Riley Lees had touchdown catches for the Wildcats, coming off a loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game.

Bo Nix threw for 292 yards for Auburn (6-5), The Tigers were led by interim coach Kevin Steele following the Dec. 13 firing of Gus Malzahn. Bryan Harsin is taking after seven seasons at Boise State.