The look on Jalen Hurts’s face after last year’s title victory is tough to forget. The then-starting quarterback watched helplessly from the sidelines as freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa filled in for him–and ended up having a dazzling performance that all but won the game for the Crimson Tide.
Hurts was clearly happy with the win, but the sting of being sidelined for poor performance on national television was taking a clear toll on the then-19-year-old. He took the high ground and expressed happiness for the team and for Tagovailoa’s breakout performance, but there’s been talk in the meantime of Hurts’s potential transfer as he looks for a way to get more minutes.
Since then, Tagovailoa has been the starting QB for the 12-0 Alabama team, and the sophomore phenom is a Heisman contender this year. During the third quarter of Saturday’s SEC Championship game against Georgia, though, he was downed after a nasty ankle injury that had Alabama fans holding their breath.
With eleven minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Crimson Tide down 7, Tagovailoa was helped off the field. For Hurts, it was go time.
Hurts Scored Quickly After Being Subbed in for Tagovailoa
In an unbelievable twist, especially considering last year’s story, Jalen took his turn on the field this time with Tagovailoa supporting from the sideline. With the game tied and just a minute to go, Hurts broke through the defense and powered into the endzone.
Bama was up, and the game was all but won.
You really can’t make this up.
Hurts’s patience paid off, and he couldn’t have made his clutch play at a better time. Alabama got away with the win and they’re lucky to have two high-caliber quarterbacks at their disposal.
Stephen A. summed things up nicely, as usual:
The whole thing is an immense show of character for the two young teammates. Both in last year’s title game and this year’s SEC Championship, each has graciously stepped aside and allowed the other to do their thing, and its a testament to the ethos of the Alabama program.
Normally-stoic head coach Nick Saban even got a little emotional talking about his guys.
“I’m so proud of this guy for what he’s done this year, I can’t even tell you,” Saban said as he put his arm around Hurts in a postgame interview. “Great comeback for our team. Showed a tremendous amount of resiliency in the game. We didn’t play great, but we won the SEC today and we’re so happy about that.”