clear
Sunday November 19th, 2017 10:50AM
8:34AM ( 2 hours ago ) Weather Alert

Watson and Clemson dethrone top-ranked Tide, 35-31

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Deshaun Watson took the snap, rolled right and with one of the easiest throws he had to make all night, completed Clemson's journey to the top of college football.

A frantic fourth quarter and a championship rematch between Clemson and Alabama was decided with 1 second left on a 2-yard touchdown toss to Hunter Renfrow.

"I couldn't hear the crowd," Watson said. "I just felt at peace."

Watson and the Tigers dethroned the defending champs and became the first team to beat Nick Saban's Alabama dynasty in a national title game, taking down the top-ranked Crimson Tide 35-31 Monday night in the College Football Playoff.

A 35-year title drought for Clemson is over. The Tigers are national champions for the first time since 1981.

A year after Alabama won its fourth title under Saban with a classic 45-40 win in Arizona, Clemson (14-1) denied the Tide (14-1) an unprecedented fifth championship in eight seasons.

"That has to be one of the greatest games of all time," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.

Hard to argue.

The new champions have a process of their own that includes a loquacious coach who can turn a postgame interview into a fiery sermon, a spectacular quarterback who did not need a Heisman Trophy to show he was the best player in the country and a fun-loving team that plays with a chip on its shoulder.

"There was no upset tonight," Swinney said. "That's the last thing I told them when we left the locker room. I said, 'When we win the game tonight I don't want to hear one word about this being an upset. The only upset is going to be if we don't win the dadgum game.'"

The lead changed hands three times in the fourth quarter, but Watson got the ball last. Playing in his final college game, the junior quarterback threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns. In two games against Alabama and the most ferocious defense in college football, Watson has thrown for 825 yards and accounted for eight touchdowns. He was sacked four times Monday night and took some cringe-inducing shots from All-Americans Jonathan Allen and Reuben Foster.

"You know, I never got the sense that he was rattled," Allen said about Watson.

Swinney, the native Alabaman and former Crimson Tide walk-on receiver, has built an elite program at Clemson that was missing only one thing. Now the Tigers can check that box, too.

"Eight years ago we set out to put Clemson back on top," Swinney said. "We came up a little short last year, but today on top of the mountain, the Clemson flag is flying."

After three quarters of body slams and tight defense, Tigers-Tide II ended up looking a lot like the first meeting when the teams combined for 40 points in the fourth quarter.

Watson found Mike Williams for a 4-yard touchdown a minute into the fourth quarter to make it 24-21 Alabama.

The Tigers took their first lead, 28-24, with 4:38 left in the fourth quarter when Wayne Gallman surged in from a yard out.

The Tide's offense, which had gone dormant for most of the second half, came to life with the help of a sweet call from newly promoted offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Receiver ArDarius Stewart took a backward pass from Jalen Hurts and fired a strike to O.J. Howard for 24 yards.

On the next play, Hurts broke free from a collapsing pocket and weaved through defenders for a 30-yard touchdown run to make it 31-28 with 2:07 left.

More than enough time for Watson.

"I was calm," Watson said. He said he thought about Vince Young's last-second touchdown for Texas that derailed the Southern California's championship run in the 2005 championship game at the Rose Bowl. He told his team: "Let's go be great."

Watson hooked up with Williams and Jordan Leggett, who made great catches for big gains to get to first-and-goal with 14 seconds left.

A pass interference on Alabama made it first-and-goal at the 2 with six seconds left. Time for one more play to avoid a game-tying kick and overtime. Renfrow slipped away from the defense at the goal line with the help of some traffic created by Artavis Scott — or maybe it was an illegal pick? — and was alone for an easy toss.

Alabama players thought Scott interfered with his defender, Marlon Humphrey.

"Usually, on a pick route, you're not supposed to chop somebody," Alabama linebacker Tim Williams said. "You're supposed to pick them ... but it's football."

For the former walk-on Renfrow, it was his second TD catch of the game. He had two last season against Alabama.

Alabama was 4-0 in national championship games under Saban. It was 106-6 in games it led at half and 96-0 when entering the fourth quarter with a double-digit lead as the Tide did Monday night. Clemson overcame all those odds.

The Tide jumped out to a 14-0 lead behind two long touchdown runs by Bo Scarbrough in the first half. The 230-pound sophomore back was pretty much Alabama's whole offense for a while, running for 93 yards on 16 carries while Hurts and the passing game struggle. Scarbrough left in the third quarter with a leg injury, but the Tide finally found some other help. Hurts hooked up with O.J. Howard, one of last year's heroes for 'Bama, for a 68-yard touchdown pass to make it 24-14 late in the third quarter.

"Look, there's not one play in the game that makes a difference in a game," Saban said. "We could have done a lot of things a lot better."

When it ended, Clemson's 315-pound defensive lineman Christian Wilkins did a split and a cartwheel and Ben Boulware, one of the toughest linebackers in the country, was in tears.

The Tigers had snapped Alabama's 26-game winning streak and beaten a No. 1 team for the first time ever.

"It's been 35 long years!" Boulware screamed. "It's coming home baby! It's coming home!"

Last season Alabama met its match in Clemson, but prevailed. This time, Clemson made sure the sequel had a different ending.

___

Follow Ralph D. Russo at wwww.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

___

More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Football, AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, College Sports, AP Sports - College Football
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
2 of 10 missing US sailors identified after warship crash
Sailors with ties to Michigan and Illinois are among 10 who are missing after a U.S. warship collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asia
5:17PM ( 21 minutes ago )
The Latest: US Pacific commander lauds work to right warship
The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet has commended the crew of the USS John S. McCain for righting the destroyer quickly after Monday's collision with an oil tanker near Singapore
5:11PM ( 26 minutes ago )
The Latest: Spain suspects bought weapons after first attack
Court documents show that members of a Spanish extremist cell bought knives and an ax between the first and second fatal attacks in the country's Catalonia region last week
5:06PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Army-Navy to play in NJ in 2021; Philadelphia 4 more times
Army and Navy will be played in Philadelphia four times from 2018-2022, returning to its most frequent host city, and in 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey
4:45PM ( 53 minutes ago )
Beckham, Marshall being listed as day to day by Giants
Three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is being listed as day to day with a sprained left ankle
4:25PM ( 1 hour ago )
Double shot: Indians place Miller, Salazar on disabled list
Indians place All-Star Miller, Salazar on the disabled list.
3:56PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Sports
Browns players kneel in prayer during national anthem
Several Browns players kneel and pray in protest during national anthem
1:26AM ( 16 hours ago )
Beckham Jr. dodges serious injury in Giants' loss to Browns
Giants' Beckham injures leg on hard hit in 10-6 loss to Browns.
12:23AM ( 17 hours ago )
Beckham Jr. injured in Giants' 10-6 loss to Browns
Giants' Beckham injures leg on hard hit in 10-6 loss to Browns.
11:16PM ( 18 hours ago )
AP Online Football
The Latest: Slain driver's family hopes for quick decision
A lawyer says the family of an unarmed black driver who was fatally shot by Indianapolis police officers hopes the appointment of a special prosecutor will lead to a decision soon on whether those officers will face charges
4:49PM ( 49 minutes ago )
Priest urges haters to repent; reveals his Ku Klux Klan past
A Virginia priest is taking a leave of absence after disclosing he once was a member of the Ku Klux Klan
4:41PM ( 57 minutes ago )
Afghanistan vets reassured by Trump reversing calls for exit
Veterans who have fought in America's longest war found it reassuring that President Donald Trump reversed his past calls for a speedy exit from Afghanistan
4:39PM ( 58 minutes ago )
AP National News
Analysts say Trump's warning to Pakistan could backfire
Analysts say that President Donald Trump's warning to Pakistan to immediately end harboring militants in Afghanistan didn't spell out the consequences of defiance or suggest a new strategy to get it to yield to U.S. demands
3:31PM ( 2 hours ago )
Cosby's retrial delayed as new legal team joins case
Bill Cosby's retrial on sexual assault charges will be delayed until next year as his new legal team gets up to speed on the case
2:21PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Fresh US troops arriving soon in Afghanistan
The top U.S commander for the Middle East says the first deployments of new U.S. forces will arrive in Afghanistan "pretty quickly."'
1:58PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Suspect says imam planned to blow himself up in Barcelona
A suspect has told a judge in Madrid that an extremist cell in northeastern Spain was preparing bombs for an imam who planned to blow himself up at a Barcelona monument
3:09PM ( 2 hours ago )
A coal country dispute over an alleged Trump promise unmet
The Trump administration has rejected a coal industry push to issue a rarely used emergency order protecting coal-fired power plants
11:56AM ( 5 hours ago )
Spain attack raises questions on extremism among Moroccans
After yet another deadly attack in Europe involving Moroccans, residents of that country are raising questions about why its emigres are taking up extremism
11:20AM ( 6 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Baseball fans flock to minor league stadiums to see eclipse
Baseball fans in more than half a dozen cities will catch the solar eclipse at the ballpark as teams look to cash in with game-day viewing parties
6:49PM ( 22 hours ago )
Strong welcomes high expectations for No. 19 South Florida
Twenty years after launching its football program from scratch, South Florida could be on verge of realizing its potential
5:45PM ( 23 hours ago )
Alabama starts atop AP poll for 2nd straight year
Alabama is No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason college football poll for the second straight season and third time in five years
1:00PM ( 1 day ago )
College Sports
Ex-Vanderbilt football player gets minimum 15 years for rape
A former Vanderbilt University football player has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in the 2013 rape of an unconscious female student
3:29PM ( 4 days ago )
Can JT Barrett pass better for Ohio State in 2017?
The overarching question at Ohio State's training camp is whether quarterback J.T. Barrett has the ability to become a better passer.
10:59AM ( 4 days ago )
K-State hopes returning secondary can hold up in Big 12
Kansas State looks to improved secondary for success in pass-happy Big 12
3:28PM ( 5 days ago )
AP Sports - College Football
2 of 10 missing US sailors identified after warship crash
Sailors with ties to Michigan and Illinois are among 10 who are missing after a U.S. warship collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asia
5:17PM ( 21 minutes ago )
The Latest: US Pacific commander lauds work to right warship
The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet has commended the crew of the USS John S. McCain for righting the destroyer quickly after Monday's collision with an oil tanker near Singapore
5:11PM ( 27 minutes ago )
The Latest: Spain suspects bought weapons after first attack
Court documents show that members of a Spanish extremist cell bought knives and an ax between the first and second fatal attacks in the country's Catalonia region last week
5:06PM ( 32 minutes ago )
In chaotic meeting, Charlottesville votes to shroud statues
Anger boils over at the first Charlottesville city council meeting since a deadly white supremacist rally
5:06PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Trump returns to immigration issue with Arizona visit, rally
President Donald Trump is trying to recapture the fervor that helped put him in office with a campaign-style rally in Arizona
5:02PM ( 36 minutes ago )