Allen Kee/ESPN Images(NEW YORK) — A freshman mounted a comeback on college football’s biggest stage, adding yet another national championship title to Nick Saban’s resume.
The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated their conference rival, the Georgia Bulldogs, 26-23 in overtime, securing its fifth national championship under head coach Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide have taken two of the past three college football titles back to Tuscaloosa.
Alabama mounted a comeback after their offense was shut out by Georgia’s highly-touted defense in the first half. Sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts was just… Nick Saban gambled in the second half, turning to left-handed freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to lead the offense.
While not perfect, Tagovailoa provided the spark the Crimson Tide for which Alabama was looking. The freshman went 14-for-24 with 166 yards of passing, tossing three touchdowns and an interception. He topped his performance with a 41-yard game-winning touchdown pass to fellow freshman DeVonta Smith in overtime.
Coming from his hometown of Ewa Beach, Hawai’i to Alabama, Tagovailoa, elated, told the media afterwards, “I don’t know how Coach Saban found me all the way in Hawaii from Alabama,” Tagovailoa said. “Thank God he found me and we’re here right now.”
Saban said the freshman, “Did a good job.”
Hurts praised Tagovailoa’s performance after the game, telling reporters, “He just stepped in and did his thing. He’s built for stuff like this. I’m so happy for him.”
After losing the in the national championship game last January against Clemson, Nick Saban praised his team’s resilience:
“These kids really responded the right way. We said last year, `Don’t waste the feeling.’ They sure didn’t, the way they played tonight.”
Saban has now won six major poll national championships, which includes one at LSU. His record six national championships is tied by another legendary Alabama football coach: Paul “Bear” Bryant.
Two years ago, Georgia hired Saban’s assistant, Kirby Smart, to be the Bulldogs’ head coach. He was looking to bring a national championship back to Athens for the first time since 1980.
Early in the game, it looked like Smart was going to become the first assistant to defeat his former mentor in a head-to-head matchup. Instead, Saban took home the title, and maintains a perfect record (12-0) against his former assistants.
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