Clemson – 0 – 7 – 7 – 21 35
Alabama – 7 – 7 – 10 – 7 31
One season after losing to Alabama in the College Football Playoff Championship Game, the Clemson Tigers returned the favor as they won their first national title since 1981. Clemson won by the final score of 35-31, with Deshaun Watson’s two-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow with one second remaining deciding the game. Watson threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns on the night while also rushing for another 43 yards and a touchdown.
Renfrow and Mike Williams were the the receiving standouts for Clemson, with Renfrow catching ten passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns and Williams finishing with nine catches for 94 yards and a touchdown. Wayne Gallman II led Clemson with 46 yards rushing and one touchdown.
For Alabama, quarterback Jalen Hurts threw for 131 yards and one touchdown, and he also rushed for another 63 yards and a touchdown. Running back Bo Scarbrough led the way on the ground for Alabama with 93 yards and two touchdowns, but a leg injury suffered in the third quarter ended his evening. Calvin Ridley caught five passes for 36 yards, and O.J. Howard finished with four receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Hurts’ 30-yard touchdown run with 2:01 remaining gave Alabama a 31-28 lead, but Clemson still had a chance to grab the win. And led by Watson, the Tigers did just that. Watson was named the Offensive Player of the Game, and linebacker Ben Boulware was named Defensive Player of the Gme. Below are highlights of the scoring plays from what was a classic championship game.
9:23 remaining, first quarter: After stopping Clemson on 4th and 1 at the 40-yard line, Alabama drove 59 yards in three plays to score the first points of the game. Bo Scarbrough scored on a 25-yard touchdown run, getting outside, cutting back and taking two Clemson defenders into the end zone with him.
10:42 remaining, second quarter: Scarbrough, who rushed for two touchdowns in Alabama’s semifinal win over Washington, scored his second of the half with a 37 yard run to make the score 14-0 in favor of Alabama. Scarbough has rushed for 71 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries thus far.
6:09 remaining, second quarter: Clemson opened its account, with Deshaun Watson scoring on an 8-yard run. Watson hit two key passing plays on the drive, one to Deon Cain for 43 ayrds and the other to Jordan Leggett for 26 yards. Clemson went 87 yards in seven plays to cut the deficit in half.
In the first half Clemson’s Deshaun Watson threw for 153 yards, completing 13 of his 23 pass attempts, while also running for one yard on nine carries (one touchdown). Wayne Gallman II has rushed for 49 yards on 12 carries, and receivers Hunter Renfrow (36 yards) and Mike Williams (34 yards) have four catches apiece. Alabama’s been led offensively by running back Bo Scarbrough, who has 76 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 12 carries. Jalen Hurts has completed seven of his 16 pass attempts for 40 yards. Calvin Ridley has caught five of Hurts’ seven completions for 36 yards.
13:54 remaining, third quarter: Alabama forced the first turnover of the game, with a Gallman fumble being scooped up by linebacker Ryan Anderson and returned to the Clemson 16-yard line. Anderson also caused the fumble. Adam Griffith’s 27-yard field goal on the ensuing drive gave Alabama a 17-7 lead.
7:10 remaining, third quarter: Clemson cuts the Alabama lead to three, as Watson connects with Renfrow for a 24-yard touchdown pass. Clemson began the drive on the Alabama 42-yard line, as JK Scott shanked a punt to give the Tigers good field position. It only took Clemson three plays to trim the deficit.
1:53 remaining, third quarter: Alabama pushed its lead back out to ten points, as Hurts connected with tight end O.J. Howard for a 68-tard touchdown. Clemson’s safety was caught looking into the backfield on the play fake, and Hurts was able to take advantage. Howard beat his man on the wheel route, and with no safety help over the top the tight end was on his way to the end zone.
14:00 remaining, fourth quarter: Watson found Mike Williams in the corner of the end zone to pull Clemson back to within three points, 24-21. Clemson went 72 yards in nine plays on the drive, producing a much-needed answer after Jalen Hurts’ touchdown pass to O.J. Howard gave the Crimson Tide a ten-point lead.
4:38 remaining, fourth quarter: Clemson needed just 1:55 to drive 88 yards in six plays, with Gallman’s 1-yard touchdown run giving Clemson its first lead of the game. This is also the first time that Alabama has trailed in the fourth quarter of a game this season.
2:07 remaining, fourth quarter: Many wondered what Hurts, who struggled for most of the night, would do with Alabame facing its first fourth-quarter deficit of the season. He led the Crimson Tide on a six-play, 68-yard drive that he finished with a 30-yard touchdown run to give Alabama the lead. Now the pressure shifts back to Watson and the Clemson offense.
0:01 remaining, fourth quarter: Watson hits Renfrow for a two-yard touchdown pass with one second remaining to give Clemson the lead. Clemson drove 68 yards in nine plays, and then successfully pulled off the onside kick to retain possession of the football and run out the clock.