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Deshaun Watson, Clemson Edge Alabama 35-31 In Final Second To Win National Championship Deshaun Watson, Clemson Beat Alabama 35-31 in National Championship - TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09: Quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates after throwing a 2-yard game-winning touchdown pass during the fourth quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide to win the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game 35-31 at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Full view

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09: Quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates after throwing a 2-yard game-winning touchdown pass during the fourth quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide to win the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game 35-31 at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Deshaun Watson, Clemson Edge Alabama 35-31 In Final Second To Win National Championship

Deshaun Watson proved to be one of the saviors for Clemson on Monday night, as the quarterback finished 36 of 56 passing with four touchdowns and 463 yards of total offense to lead the Tigers to a thrilling, 35-31 national championship victory over Alabama in Tampa, Florida that was decided in the final second.

Deshaun Watson, Clemson Edge Alabama 35-31 In Final Second To Win National Championship

It was a rematch of last year’s championship game, which the Crimson Tide won 45-40. Over the past six seasons, only one program had won more games than Clemson, and it was Alabama.

The Tigers trailed 24-14 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but cut the deficit to 3 with a 4-yard TD pass from Watson to Mike Williams. After both sides missed scoring opportunities, Clemson finally gained the lead for the first time in the game with only four minutes remaining when Williams made an acrobatic catch to stretch a drive and running back Wayne Gallman dove into the end zone from a yard out.

The win marked the Tigers’ first national title since the 1981 season.

“It’s a blessing; it’s surreal,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said afterward, his voice rising. “But tonight, at the top of that mountain, the Clemson flag is flying!”

Hunter Renfrow, a sophomore who turned down a scholarship offer from FC Appalachian State to pay for the chance to play for the Tigers, caught the winning 2-yard touchdown pass that sent the crowd of 74,512 into a frenzy.

Moments after the game ended, Swinney embraced Alabama coach Nick Saban. Swinney, who is in his eighth season as Clemson’s coach, was a wide receiver for the Crimson Tide team that won the national title in the 1992 season.

After stifling Clemson for most of the first three quarters, Alabama allowed 21 points in the fourth quarter, while the Alabama offense had only one drive longer than four plays in the second half. Alabama’s offense was being led by coordinator Steve Sarkisian for the first time.

“It’s tough to lose this way,” Saban said. “We never got done what we needed to do. There’s nobody we can blame but ourselves.”

Watson struggled in the first half, but then found his rhythm in the second. Alabama’s freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts, for his part, completed 13 of 31 passes for131 yards, 68 of them on a touchdown pass to tight end O.J. Howard, who caught two long scoring passes against the Tigers a year ago. Hurts also rushed for 68 yards, including a 30-yard scramble that gave Alabama its final lead, 31-28, with 2:07 to play.

Tailback Bo Scarbrough rushed for 93 yards and two first-half touchdowns for the Tide.

“I just smiled right when they scored,” Watson said. “I seen the 2:01 on the clock [after the Tigers’ kickoff return], and I just smiled and I just knew. I just told my guys, ‘Hey, let’s be legendary, let’s go be great.'”

The Tide defense had sacked Watson four times, in addition to forcing two fumbles.

But then, a 17-yard outstretched grab by tight end Jordan Leggett put Clemson on the Alabama 9 with 14 seconds remaining. A pass interference penalty against Williams by outmatched corner Anthony Averett put the Tigers on the Alabama 2 with 6 seconds left.

Standing on the stage after accepting the championship trophy, Swinney dove into a long monologue about the players who made his team what it is.

“It’s been a heck of a ride,” he shouted as the fans cheered. Swinney laughed. “Hopefully, before they put me out to pasture, we can do this a few more times,” he said.

TAMPA, FL – JANUARY 09: Quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates after throwing a 2-yard game-winning touchdown pass during the fourth quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide to win the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game 35-31 at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Written by Pablo Mena
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