National Championship Top Five Plays
|Friday, January 13, 2017, 8:27 AM- -|
There were plenty of highlights in Clemson’s thrilling 35-31 victory over Alabama in the third College Football Playoff National Championship.
Clemson fans for generations will re-live the final drive of the game when Deshaun Watson and the offense marched 68 yards down the field in 2:01 for the final score of the game, but will anyone remember the plays and moments that ultimately shaped the outcome?
Let’s count down the top five plays of the game, and if I left one out or you don’t agree, please let us know what your top plays are in the comments section.
One thing about Alabama is they are disciplined. They aren’t going to beat themselves, and they usually don’t commit costly penalties, but Monday night the Tide committed four penalties at the worst possible time.
Clemson had two turnovers in the game – fumbles by Watson and Wayne Gallman – and after both Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson committed a false start penalty. The first was to begin the drive late in the first quarter and the Tide wouldn’t gain positive yards on the drive after starting deep in Clemson territory.
The second was on another three-and-out by the Alabama defense, but it was significant because it was yet another drive beginning in Clemson territory and it limited the Tide to just a field goal making it a 10 point game instead of potentially a two-touchdown game.
On Clemson’s final two scoring drives, Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, setting up a 15-yard run by Watson and a one-yard scoring plunge by Gallman and giving Clemson its first lead of the game. Later in the quarter, Anthony Averett was called for pass interference in the endzone with just nine seconds to play in the game setting up Watson and Renfrow’s heroics.
4.POETIC JUSTICE – THE ONSIDE KICK
Call it revenge. Call it poetic justice. Call it whatever you want, but the impeccably executed onside kick with one second remaining was the perfect way to end the game.
Huegel kicked a dribbler right down the middle toward an unsuspecting Alabama and recovered the kick just beyond the 10-yard marker to seal the win and the championship.
3.Deon Cain’s SPARK
Clemson’s offense was reeling in the first quarter and the first part of the second quarter – amassing just 81 total yards and five first downs – and it wasn’t until the Tigers’ third drive of the second quarter that things began clicking a little bit.
Facing a second-and-five, Watson hit Cain on a screen pass and Cain broke free for 43 yards, setting up Clemson’s first real scoring opportunity. Five plays later, Watson sprinted toward the corner of the endzone for Clemson’s first touchdown of the night.
2. THE TACKLE
Hunter Renfrow gets all of the accolades for his team-high 10 catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns, but a play that had just as big of an impact was his tackle of Alabama’s Ryan Anderson.
On Clemson’s first drive of the second half, running back Wayne Gallman was hit in the backfield, and Anderson knocked the ball free, picked it up and was racing toward the endzone. Renfrow came from across the field to tackle the 6-2, 250-pound linebacker, limiting the return to just 12 yards.
Alabama only added three points on a 27-yard field goal.
1. ORANGE CRUSH
Alabama took a 31-28 lead with 2:07 to play on a 30-yard touchdown run by Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, but unfortunately for the Tide they left too much time on the clock for Clemson.
Watson orchestrated one of his best career drives hitting Mike Williams and Jordan Leggett on the way to a first-and-goal with just seconds on the clock. Clemson’s junior signal caller rolled to his right and hit a wide-open Hunter Renfrow on the goal line for the go-ahead touchdown and Clemson’s second national title.
The play was Crush – or Orange Crush if you’re talking to co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott. It’s a play the offense has worked on all season and co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott was saving it for the biggest stage.