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Thursday April 26th, 2018 10:31PM

The Latest: Hardman's 2nd TD gives Georgia 20-7 lead on Tide

By The Associated Press
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ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on the College Football Playoff national football championship game on Monday night (all times local):

10:50 p.m.

After having three touchdowns all season, Georgia's Mecole Hardman has two touchdowns in the national championship game against Alabama, including an 80-yarder that included some fancy footwork along the sideline.

After Alabama staged an impressive drive for its first touchdown, cutting the Bulldogs' lead to 13-7 in the third quarter, Georgia answered quickly with Jake Fromm's bomb to Hardman.

A review confirmed Hardman stayed in bounds after making contact with Alabama defensive back Tony Brown. Hardman's first score came on a 1-yard touchdown run late in the first half on a direct snap.

___

10:45 p.m.

Jake Fromm has thrown an 80-yard touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman to give Georgia a 20-7 lead over Alabama with 6:52 left in the third quarter of the national championship game.

The touchdown stood after a video review to see if Hardman stepped out of bounds at about the Alabama 20-yard line.

The Bulldogs got the ball back when Deandre Baker intercepted freshman Tua Tagovailoa, who had led Alabama to its first touchdown after starting the second half in place of Jalen Hurts. But the Crimson Tide got an interception of its own when a Fromm pass was tipped at the line.

___

10:35 p.m.

Alabama has pulled within 13-7 at Georgia in the third quarter of the national championship game.

Freshman Tua Tagovailoa replaced Jalen Hurts to start the second half and hit Henry Ruggs III with a 6-yard touchdown pass to finish a seven-play, 56-yard drive.

Tagovailoa completed 4 of 5 passes, but he used his legs to make the biggest play. Under pressure after he dropped back to pass, he split two Georgia defenders and made a third miss as he scrambled for 9 yards on a third-and-7.

The Tide went three-and-out on their first series with Tagovailoa under center.

Alabama is playing the second half without offensive tackle Jonah Williams. The third-team All-American was replaced by Alex Leatherwood.

President Donald Trump attended the first half of the game and was on the field during the national anthem. He had left by the time things got rolling in the third quarter.

___

10:17 p.m.

Trailing 13-0, Alabama has started freshman Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback in the second half of the national championship game against Georgia.

Tagovailoa replaced a struggling Jalen Hurts coming out of the locker room. Hurts was just 3-of-8 passing for 21 yards in the first half while running for 47 yards.

Tagovailoa, a five-star recruit from Hawaii, played in eight games this season. He completed 35 of 53 passes for 470 yards with eight touchdowns against one interception, mostly in mop-up duty. Hurts was the Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year as a freshman last season.

Alabama hadn't been held scoreless in the first half since last season. It was also the first time since the 2012 national title game that a team failed to score in the first half. Alabama shut out Notre Dame going into the half en route to a 42-14 win.

___

10 p.m.

Alabama trails Georgia 13-0 at halftime of the national title game.

The Crimson Tide had not been held scoreless in the first half since a 10-0 victory over LSU last season. All 10 of the Tide's points came in the fourth quarter.

Alabama had outscored opponents 270-56 before the half this season coming into the game against its SEC rival.

Georgia's Jake Fromm is 11 of 23 for 126 yards, and Sony Michel has run eight times for 61 yards.

___

9:50 p.m.

Georgia holds a 13-0 lead over Alabama at halftime of the national championship game in Atlanta.

Jake Fromm led the Bulldogs on a 69-yard touchdown drive in the last 2 minutes. Wide receiver Mecole Hardman took a direct snap and ran 1 yard into the end zone with 7 seconds left.

Rodrigo Blankenship kicked field goals of 41 and 27 yards, and the Bulldogs' defense held the Crimson Tide in check.

Alabama totaled just 95 yards on five possessions, and Jalen Hurts took a knee to end the half. The Tide punted four straight times after Andy Pappanastos missed a 40-yard field goal on the Tide's first possession.

Georgia got the ball back with 1:19 left in the half. Fromm threw passes of 10 and 16 yards and ran for 14 on Georgia's way to the touchdown.

Fromm is 11 of 23 for 126 yards, and Sony Michel has run eight times for 61 yards.

Hurts is 3 for 8 for 21 yards and he's run six times for 47.

Alabama has scored in 226 consecutive games.

___

9:40 p.m.

Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley is flourishing in his opportunity to emerge from the shadow cast by his older brother, Alabama star Calvin Ridley.

Ridley has four catches for 62 yards in the first half of Monday night's national championship game. He already has moved to within range of his career-high totals of five catches for 67 yards against Vanderbilt in 2016.

While Calvin Ridley, a junior, is second in Alabama history with 220 career receptions, including a team-high 59 this season, Riley Ridley has had a quiet season for Georgia with only eight catches before the championship game.

Georgia led Alabama 6-0 late in the second quarter.

___

9:27 p.m.

Rodrigo Blankenship has kicked his second field goal, this one from 27 yards, to give Georgia a 6-0 lead over Alabama with about 6 minutes left until halftime of the national championship game.

Georgia's defense limited Alabama to 57 yards and forced two straight three-and-outs before quarterback Jalen Hurts broke loose for 31 yards. Hurts has completed only 2 of his first 6 passes for 17 yards and the Crimson Tide has punted three times.

Bulldogs freshman Jake Fromm is 8 of 16 for 84 yards.

Georgia receiver Riley Ridley has outplayed his older brother, Alabama All-SEC receiver Calvin Ridley, in the early going. Ridley has two catches for 36 yards, including a 23-yarder to convert a third-and-8 and keep the Bulldogs' second scoring drive alive. Calvin Ridley has one catch for 9 yards.

___

9:02 p.m.

Georgia has taken a 3-0 lead in the College Football Playoff championship game, with Rodrigo Blankenship kicking a 41-yard field goal on the second play of the second quarter.

The Bulldogs got into position after moving from their 21 to the Alabama 24 in 14 plays.

The big play on the drive was Sony Michel's 26-yard run to the Alabama 26 on a third-and-20 after Anthony Averett crashed through from the left side to sack Jake Fromm.

Michel's run was reviewed to see if he stepped out of bounds before the 26, but the Big Ten officiating crew's spot was upheld.

Alabama had a chance to take the lead in the first quarter, but Andy Pappanastos missed a 40-yard field goal.

___

8:35 p.m.

Georgia turned over the ball on its opening possession of the national championship game but came away unscathed after Alabama missed a field goal.

Tony Brown wrestled a long pass away from Georgia's Javon Wims to set up the Crimson Tide at their 36.

But Alabama failed to come away with points. Andy Pappanastos' 35-yard field goal was nullified by a false start, and he pulled his second attempt from 40 yards wide left.

The Crimson Tide forced Georgia to punt on its second possession with 9:04 left in the first quarter.

___

8:20 p.m.

The College Football Playoff national championship game between Alabama (12-1) and Georgia (13-1) is under way at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Frank Beamer, Mack Brown and Matt Stinchcomb — named to the 2018 College Football Hall of Fame on Monday — were on the field for the coin toss along with honorary captains O.J. Howard of Alabama and Herschel Walker of Georgia.

Alabama called tails and won the toss and deferred until the second half. They picked off Georgia on the third play from scrimmage.

This is the 68th all-time meeting between the Southeastern Conference rivals and first since 2015, when Alabama won 38-10 in the regular season.

Alabama is in the title game for the third year in a row and seeking its fifth national title under Saban since 2009. Georgia, led by second-year coach and former Saban assistant Kirby Smart, is looking for its first championship since 1980.

The Crimson Tide reached the title game with a 24-6 Sugar Bowl win over Clemson. The Bulldogs advanced with a 54-48 double-overtime win over Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.

President Donald Trump is in attendance and was on the field during the national anthem.

___

8:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump was on the field for the national anthem before the College Football Playoff national title game.

Trump walked onto the field accompanied by the ROTC units from Georgia and Alabama. He was greeted by mostly cheers from the crowd on hand to watch the game between Alabama and Georgia.

Trump waved to the crowd before the Zac Brown Band sang the anthem. Hand placed over his heart, Trump appeared to sing along at times.

No players were on the field yet. That's unlike the NFL, where some players this season protested racial injustice by kneeling during the anthem — often drawing Trump's ire.

___

7:45 p.m.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium has a bit of water dripping on to the sideline, seemingly coming from high above the field.

Around the 20-yard line on Alabama's side of the field, but off the playing field, a few drops could be spotted falling on to the green artificial turf.

A stadium security worker wearing a blue shirt was standing where the water was landing and had wets spots on his shirt.

There have been issues with the stadium's signature retractable roof since construction began on the facility. The roof has only been opened once for football since the stadium opened in August.

___

7:15 p.m.

The crowd is trickling into Mercedes-Benz Stadium with the kickoff for Monday night's College Football Playoff national championship game about an hour away.

Alabama native and former NFL star Terrell Owens is among the crowd that navigated the consistent chilly drizzle outside the stadium and security lines to get into the building.

Owens, from Alexander City, Alabama, wore a wool knit Crimson Tide cap and talked with the SEC Network before the contest, telling host Paul Finebaum that his dream growing up wasn't the NFL, it was to play for Alabama.

If he had, the Crimson Tide might have had another national crown or two in their trophy case.

Owens instead played at Chattanooga and was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1996. He had 1,078 catches in 15 seasons with five NFL teams.

___

6:45 p.m.

Alabama radio play-by-play announcer Eli Gold says he has been told that President Trump will be on the Alabama Radio Network during the College Football Playoff national championship game between the Crimson Tide and Georgia.

Gold says network officials reached out to the White House through the Alabama governor's office last week to request an interview with the president and heard back in the last day or so that Trump agreed to come.

Gold says nothing is definitive but if Trump comes on it would like be after the first quarter.

___

6:30 p.m.

Georgia won't be at full strength at tight end in its national championship game against Alabama.

Sophomore Charlie Woerner, who set a career high with three catches in the Bulldogs' Rose Bowl playoff win over Oklahoma last week, was on crutches when the team entered Mercedes-Benz Stadium for Monday night's game.

Coach Kirby Smart said Sunday Woerner's status was doubtful after the sophomore suffered a leg injury in last week's win, so the crutches were not a big surprise.

Woerner, listed with Isaac Nauta behind starting tight end Jeb Blazevich, had nine catches for 100 yards this season.

Woerner is the nephew of former Georgia defensive back and return specialist Scott Woerner, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Scott Woerner was a standout on Georgia's 1980 national championship team.

___

3:30 a.m.

No. 4 Alabama faces No. 3 Georgia in an all-Southeastern Conference College Football Playoff national championship game Monday night.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban tries to tie former Alabama coach Bear Bryant's record six major poll national championships. Saban has led the Tide to four national championships since 2009, and the last three national championship games.

Georgia, coached by former Saban assistant Kirby Smart, is looking for its first national championship since 1980.

The Bulldogs feature the most prolific running back combination in college football in senior Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. They combined for six touchdowns in the Bulldogs semifinal victory against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.

Alabama has to No. 1 rushing defense in the country and smothered Clemson in the Sugar Bowl semifinal to get here.

___

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