Tide wins CFP National Championship with 45-40 win over Clemson: Drake 95-yard run

GLENDALE, Ariz. – In a scintillating matchup of contrasting styles, the Alabama Crimson Tide (14-1) showed incredible resourcefulness and resilience to earn its 16th football national championship on Monday night in the Arizona desert. The national title is the fourth in the last seven seasons (since 2009) for the Crimson Tide, and gives Tide head coach Nick Saban five national crowns in his career, including four with the Tide.

Tight end O.J. Howard caught five passes for a career-high 208 yards, quarterback Jake Coker passed for a career-best 335 yards, running back Derrick Henry rushed for 158 yards and Kenyan Drake returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to lift the Tide to a 45-40 victory over the top-ranked Clemson Tigers (14-1) before a crowd of 75,756 (capacity: 71,000) in the College Football Playoff Championship Game at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Howard’s receiving yardage is an Alabama record for a tight end and the fifth-most by any Tide player, regardless of position. Meanwhile, Henry’s broke season and career school record for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns during the game.

A 50-yard run by Henry opened the scoring to put the Crimson Tide up early, 7-0, with 7:55 left in the first period. Clemson responded on the next possession on a 31-yard touchdown pass from DeShawn Watson to wide receiver Hunter Renfrow, evening the score at 7-7 with 5:18 left in the first quarter.

After a missed field goal by Alabama ended a scoring threat, Clemson moved 73 yards in seven plays to another Watson-to-Renfrow touchdown pass, this one from 11 yards for a 14-7 lead on the final play of the first period. Moments later, Tide safety Eddie Jackson intercepted a Watson pass to set up the tying touchdown as Alabama moved 42 yards to a 1-yard dive by Henry to tie the score at 14-14. The Tide held off another Clemson scoring threat in the final minute of the half. A 27-yard pass from Watson to wide receiver Charone Peake reached the Tide 39. Two plays later, Greg Huegel’s 44-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Alabama’s D.J. Pettway and fell short.

After forcing a punt on Clemson’s opening possession of the second half, Alabama raced 64 yards in three plays to take a 21-14 lead on a 53-yard pass from Coker to tight end O.J. Howard with 12:53 left in the third period. Clemson came right back with a 55-yard drive to a 37-yard field goal by Huegel with 10:10 left in the third quarter, narrowing the Tide lead to 21-17. Clemson moved ahead on its next possession on a 1-yard run by Wayne Gallman, capping a 60-yard drive to give the Tigers a 24-21 lead with 4:48 left in the third period.

Alabama evened the score at 24-24 on a 33-yard field goal by Griffith with 10:34 left. On the ensuing kickoff, Griffith booted an onsides kick that bounced high and into the hands of the Tide’s leaping Marlon Humphrey to give Alabama the ball at the 50. One play later, Coker found Howard wide open again for a 51-yard touchdown pass to give the Tide a 31-24 lead with 9:45 left in the fourth period. Clemson stormed right back, driving 61 yards to a 31-yard field goal by Huegel wiht 7:47 on the clock. Kenyran Drake returned the kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to extend the Tide lead to 38-27 with 7:31 on the clock.

The Tigers stormed back on a 75-yard touchdown drive capped by a 15-yard pass from Watson to Artavis Scott with 4:40 on the clock. A two-point conversion try on a run by Watson was stopped and Alabama held a 38-33 lead. Two plays later, on a second-and-12 play, Coker found Howard in the left flat and Howard raced past defenders for 63 yards to the Clemson 14. Six plays later, Henry sealed the victory with a 1-yard dive to give the Tide a 45-33 lead with 1:07 left in the fourth period. A pass by Watson to Leggett with 12 seconds left for a Clemson touchdown provided the final 45-40 margin.

Source: Univ of Alabama Athletic Department

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