Tampa is the big winner as Clemson beats Alabama in a classic

Clemson rallies twice to win the National Championship in Tampa

With the world watching Tampa last night Deshaun Watson and Clemson dethroned the champs and became the first team to beat Nick Saban’s Alabama dynasty in a national title game, taking down the top-ranked Crimson Tide, 35-31, on Monday night in the College Football Playoff final.

It was college football’s first national championship rematch and the sequel looked more like “Rocky” than a football game at times.

Last night at a beautiful Raymond James Stadium, in Tampa, Alabama and Clemson played like they were locked in a 12 round heavyweight championship fight. Both teams came out hitting in a way that would make Mike Tyson proud.

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Alabama’s defense started to look tired as the Clemson offense ran nearly 100 plays in four quarters last night. In the end as they entered the final quarter the Alabama defense was tired.

The lead changed hands four times in the fourth quarter, but Watson got the ball last. Likely playing in his final college game, the junior quarterback threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns.

The Tigers took a 28-24 lead with 4:38 left in the fourth quarter when Wayne Gallman surged in from a yard out.

The Tide’s offense, which had gone dormant for most of the second half, came to life with the help of a very gutsy call from newly promoted offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Receiver ArDarius Stewart took a backward pass from Jalen Hurts and fired a strike to O.J. Howard for 24 yards.

On the next play, Hurts broke free from a collapsing pocket and weaved his way through defenders for a 30-yard touchdown run to make it 31-28 with 2:07 left.

More than enough time for Watson, who hooked up with Mike Williams and Jordan Leggett for great catches and big gains to get to first-and-goal.

A pass interference on Alabama made it first-and-goal at the 2 with six seconds left. Time for one more play to avoid a tying kick and potential overtime.

Renfrow slipped away from the defense at the goal line and was alone for an easy toss. It was the walk-on receiver’s second TD catch of the night, adding to the two he had last season against Alabama.

When it ended Clemson’s 315-pound defensive lineman Christian Wilkins did a cartwheel and Ben Boulware, one of the toughest linebackers in the country, was in tears.

Some quotes used in this story came from ASSOCIATED PRESS and the video from ACC Digital. 

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Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved with Berman Concerts and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.