- Streeter Lecka/Getty
- Alabama won the national championship, 26-23, over Georgia in overtime after a wild comeback on Monday night.
- The comeback was led by Tua Tagovailoa, a true freshman backup quarterback who entered the game in the second half after Alabama went scoreless in the first half.
- Tagovailoa delivered, throwing three touchdowns – including the winning, 41-yard touchdown in overtime.
Alabama had prepared the freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to play in the championship game, and it paid off.
Alabama beat Georgia, 26-23, in the college football championship on Monday night after inserting Tagovailoa into the game in the second half. Alabama head coach Nick Saban made the change, benching the team’s starting quarterback, Jalen Hurts, after a disastrous first half in which Alabama fell behind 13-0.
After Georgia kicked a field goal that gave it a 23-20 lead in overtime, Tagovailoa’s extra period got off to a horrible start when he was sacked on the first snap for a major loss. Undeterred, he then delivered a 41-yard lob to DeVonta Smith for the win.
Tagovailoa is a true freshman, but he had actually gotten a good amount of experience during the season, throwing 53 pass attempts for over 400 yards, with eight touchdowns and one interception.
After the game, Tagovailoa said Saban approached him and Hurts at halftime and said the team would be trying something different in the second half after a scoreless first half.
Tagovailoa delivered, with just his second drive of the half resulting in a touchdown. Though he threw an interception in the third quarter, the defense saved him by getting it right back on the next possession. Alabama then scored field goals on two of its next three drives before Tagovailoa delivered the tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“He just stepped in and did this thing,” Hurts said after the game. Throughout the second half, Hurts could be seen cheering his teammate and encouraging him.
“He’s built for stuff like this,” he added.
Entering his sophomore season, Tagovailoa is now a national champion.