Unlikely hero leads Alabama to national title
by Evan Wilt
Posted 1/09/18, 10:11 am
The Alabama Crimson Tide roared back from a lackluster first half against the Georgia Bulldogs to win the College Football Playoff national championship game 26-23 in overtime Monday night. The victory at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium marked Alabama’s fifth national title in nine seasons—an unprecedented dynasty for the Tide and their head coach Nick Saban. The Bulldogs took the lead early and headed into the second half with a 13-0 advantage, but Saben benched quarterback Jalen Hurts at halftime in favor of freshman backup Tua Tagovailoa, who had not taken a meaningful snap all year. Tagovalioa threw for 166 yards and three touchdowns. Late in the fourth quarter, with the game tied at 20-20, Alabama had a chance to win the game in regulation with a 36-yard field goal, but kicker Andy Pappanastos pulled the attempt to the left—his second missed field goal of the game. Georgia had the ball first in overtime and converted on a 51-yard field goal to regain the lead. Georgia then sacked Tagovailoa for a 16-yard loss on Alabama’s first play in overtime, pushing the Tide out of field-goal range. On the next play, Tagovailoa connected with DaVonta Smith, another freshman, on a 41-yard touchdown pass to win the game. Monday’s victory gave Saban his sixth national title as a head coach (he won his first at Louisiana State in 2003), tying him with former Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most national championships since 1936, when the ranking of teams in polls began. Tagovailoa credited his faith in Jesus Christ for helping him keep his cool in the come-from-behind win: “I would say my poise comes from my faith. I just pray for peace.”
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Evan is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Washington, D.C.