Last two teams standing on the season. A battle of wills. A battle of guts. Just a flat-out battle.
Heisman trophy winning RB Derrick Henry and his Alabama teammates went blow for blow with a resilient Clemson Tigers team to win the college football national title, 45-40. A four quarter slugfest which will go down as one of the best national title games of all-time saw a little bit of everything. Onside kicks. Athletic quarterbacks. Walk-on players making an impact. Even a kickoff return for a score.
Henry posted 158 well-earned yards and three touchdowns to place a cap on his triumphant season. QB Jake Coker tossed for 335 yards and two touchdowns and while most feel that his #1 receiver, Calvin Ridley, would be the recipient of most of those yards, it was the talented but rarely used tight end OJ Howard who contributed 208 yards and both of Coker’s TD passes.
Not to be outdone, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney had his talented team fighting for all four quarters. It seem that the Tigers were the walking wounded with CB Mackenzie Alexander nursing a hamstring injury and stud DE Shaq Lawson limited with an MCL injury he suffered in their matchup against Oklahoma. QB Deshaun Watson stood tall against the rugged Alabama defense and tossed for 405 yards and four touchdowns and added another 73 yards on the ground.
A game that had a lot more scoring than we expected with two stout defenses, was tied at 14 going into halftime. The second half proved to be way more entertaining than the first half with Alabama outscoring Clemson 31-26, including 24 of those points scored in the fourth.
When it seemed that Alabama was about to put the game out of reach with a 53 yard Coker to Howard touchdown, Clemson fired back and scored late in the third on a Wayne Gallman one yard touchdown to go up 24-21 going into the fourth.
A 51 yard Howard TD reception was another blow to Clemson as well as a 95 yard kickoff return by Alabama RB Kenyan Drake to go up 38-27.
A late touchdown from Watson to tight end Jordan Leggett made the score what it is now but there is no doubt that both teams left every ounce of sweat, every ounce of effort on the field. A game full of NFL talent did what it was supposed to do: Leave the nation in awe.