The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports

Alabama wins classic title game

Alabama wins classic title game

BY James Bell



That is the first word to come to my mind after the last play by Tua Tagovailoa went to DeVonta Smith for the game winning touchdown in overtime to give the Alabama Crimson Tide another national championship. They pulled out the win 26-23 over the Georgia Bulldogs in Mercedes-Benz Stadium to get their third title in five years and it’s fifth title in nine seasons. Head coach Nick Saban became the second coach in the poll era to win six national championships, matching the mark set by Paul “Bear” Bryant.

The way that the Crimson Tide won that game looked improbable after the first half. Georgia had their offense moving the ball well in a couple of possessions after opening the game with an interception and a punt. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel contributed to the Bulldogs getting the ball in positive territory and Rodrigo Blankenship got them on the board with a 41-yard field goal near the beginning of the second quarter, then freshman quarterback Jake Fromm made a few completions to get them to the 10 yard line before Blankenship added another field goal to put the score at 6-0.

Alabama’s offense seemed nonexistent after their field goal kicker Andy Pappanastos missed a field goal from 40 yards in their opening possession. Jalen Hurts had his struggles in the first half, as he couldn’t get the offense in the end zone. He rushed for 47 yards and only had eight passing attempts, completing three for just 21 yards. His numbers eventually forced Coach Saban to make the decision to replace him with Tua Tagovailoa at the start of the second half.

Hurts run out of bounds (Photo by James Bell)

Before that took place, Georgia drove down the field from their 31 yard line on Alabama’s defense with key plays by Jake Fromm and Sony Michel to get the ball near the goal line, and a 1 yard run by Mecole Hardman gave the Bulldogs a 13-0 lead going into halftime.

Hardman scores for the Bulldogs (Photo by James Bell)

While Tagovailoa had a three and out in his first series, he came back in the next series to orchestrate a 56 yard touchdown drive capped off with a throw to Henry Ruggs III to get the Tide on the board. With the deficit now being at six points, it seemed like Alabama had got to Georgia until the Bulldogs responded with an 80 yard touchdown pass from Fromm to Mecole Hardman to get their lead back to 13.

Alabama started their comeback soon after that. They got a big interception by Raekwon Davis, which gave them the ball in positive territory as a counter to the interception that Georgia got in the last possession. The Tide got a first down before Pappanastos got a field goal to make the score 20-10.

Pappanastos makes the field goal to get Alabama their first points. (Photo by James Bell)

Georgia could not get the offense rolling in their next two possessions, as they were only able to get 49 yards in 13 plays. Another field goal cut the deficit to 7 and now the game seemed to shift in Alabama’s favor. Another three and out by the Bulldogs gave the Tide a chance to tie the game, and they cashed in with an eight play, 66 yard touchdown drive in just 3 minutes and 21 seconds ending with a seven yard pass to Calvin Ridley to make the score 20-20 with 3:49 left to go in the fourth quarter.

Give credit to the Alabama defense in the second half as they were able to force another three and out to give their offense one chance to win the game in regulation with 2:50 left. As I mentioned earlier, the momentum was on Bama’s side and they wanted to finish the game in regulation. Starting at their own 35 yard line, they got a big run by another freshman Najee Harris for 11 yards after a 1 yard loss, then a 9 yard pass to Calvin Ridley got some extra yards as Malkom Parrish was penalized 15 yards for a face mask which had the Georgia fans furious.

A first down conversion by Tagovailoa got the ball at the 20 of Georgia with less than a minute to go, and it seemed like the Tide were on their way to getting the win. They burned clock to give Pappanastos a chance to get the winning field goal with 3 seconds left, and the Bulldogs along with their fans thought it was over. As the field goal attempt went up in the air, about every fan in the stadium held their breath. It went off to the left and the Georgia sideline and fans went ballistic. Some were in shock as that was the second time that Pappanastos missed a field goal in this game. Now the game was going into overtime and no one knew then what was in store next.

The Tide won the overtime toss and Georgia got the ball first, but just like the latter parts of the second half the Bulldogs offense couldn’t get a play with a lot of positive yards in. A big sack by Terrell Lewis forced Georgia to attempt a 51-yard field goal, but Blankenship nailed it to give them a 23-20 lead.

Bama’s offense got the ball next and it didn’t start off well at all. Tagovailoa could not find anyone to throw to and got sacked for a 16 yard loss. The next play was the game ender as he found fellow freshman DeVonta Smith wide open for the touchdown as Georgia’s secondary blew a coverage scheme for Tua to put the ball right in Smith’s hands.

Bedlam as Alabama rushes the field after winning in overtime. (Photo by James Bell)

As the confetti dropped down on the field and the stands, it was a stark contrast of emotions as Alabama celebrated their 2nd College Football Playoff national championship while Georgia stood in disbelief as they were so close to winning their first title since 1980.

For Nick Saban, this title bolsters his case for being the greatest head coach in college football history, winning five national titles while at Alabama and six overall. Looking forward to next season, he will have three young players at skill positions (Tagovailoa, N. Harris, and Smith) to lead his offense and yet another great defensive unit to see if the 2018 season will end with yet another national championship.

[Cover photo by James Bell]

Alabama wins classic title game
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Alabama wins classic title game

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