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.
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.