- Streeter Lecka/Getty
Clemson stunned No. 1 Alabama in the final seconds of the College Football Playoff National Championship early Tuesday morning, winning its first title since 1981.
With one second remaining in the fourth quarter, quarterback Deshaun Watson found slot receiver Hunter Renfrow in the right corner of the end zone, giving Clemson a 34-31 lead. The ensuing extra point gave the Tigers a 35-31 victory.
The game, which lasted more than four hours, started in Alabama’s favor. The Crimson Tide took a 14-0 lead in the first half and led 17-7 early in the third quarter.
But Watson and the Tigers settled in and fought back. The Clemson defense played stellar, neutralizing true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts for most of the game. Perhaps most crucially, Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough, who scored Alabama’s first two touchdowns, left the game in the third quarter with a leg injury and did not return.
Most of the action, though, came in the fourth quarter. Clemson took a 28-24 lead on a 1-yard run from Wayne Gallman, and then Alabama marched down the field on the next drive. Hurts scored on a 30-yard scramble that gave the Tide a 31-28 lead with two minutes, seven seconds left.
But Watson, who finished with 420 yards against the nation’s best defense, was simply not to be denied.
With the win, Clemson avenged its loss to Alabama in last year’s title game.