Alabama Falls, 35-31, to Clemson in CFP National
January 10, 2017
TAMPA, Fla. – In a national championship game that seesawed
back-and-forth throughout the second half, The University
of Alabama football team came up just short in the final
seconds against Clemson Monday night, falling to the Tigers,
35-31, in the 2017 College Football Playoff National
Championship Game. The two teams played in front of a
Raymond James Stadium-record 74,512 fans.
Photo Credit - rolltide.com
The Crimson Tide, playing in its second consecutive
national championship game and third College Football
Playoff in as many years, battled to the last second in
a contest where the lead changed hands three times in the
last four minutes and 38 seconds of the game.
For Alabama, senior linebacker Reuben Foster led the
defense with 12 tackles, including six solo stops and
a sack. Senior linebacker Ryan Anderson caused a fumble
and recovered two fumbles on the night while also
accounting for seven tackles.
Alabama freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts was 13-of-31 for
131 yards and a touchdown throwing the ball. He also added
63 rushing yards, including a 30-yard rushing touchdown
with 2:07 left in the game. Sophomore running back Bo
Scarbrough rushed for 93 yards and two touchdowns on 16
carries before leaving the game midway through the third
period with an injury. Senior tight end O.J. Howard led
all receivers with 106 yards and a touchdown on four
For Clemson, quarterback Deshaun Watson was 36-of-56
passing for 420 yards and three touchdowns. Running back
Wayne Gallman led the Tigers in rushing with 46 yards and
a touchdown on 18 attempts while tight end Jordan Leggett
led Clemson's receiving corps with seven catches for 95
yards. Three other Tiger players tallied more than 90
receiving yards on the night.
Clemson won the opening coin toss, but elected to defer
its choice to the second half. Alabama took the football
while Clemson kicked off defending the north goal. The
Crimson Tide opened the game on offense but, after a
12-yard kickoff return by Ar'Darius Stewart, Alabama
managed two yards on three plays before punter JK Scott
boomed a 55-yard punt that Gallman returned 12 yards to
the Tigers' 22-yard line.
The Tigers started their first offensive possession with
a 12-yard run by Gallman to the Tiger 34. After a four-yard
sack of Watson by Tide nose guard Da'Ron Payne and
defensive end Jonathan Allen at the 30, Clemson got that
yardage back and more when Watson found Leggett for a
five-yard pass to the Tigers' 35. An unnecessary roughness
penalty on the Tide gave Clemson 15 more yards and a first
down at the 50. On the next play, Watson tossed the ball to
wide receiver Artavis Scott for one yard followed by a
five-yard run by Gallman. A Watson to wide receiver Mike
Williams pass gained three yards and set up a fourth and
one at the Alabama 41. The Tigers went for it and came up
short when Tide safety Tony Brown stopped Gallman for no
gain, turning the ball over on downs.
Getting the ball on its own 41, Alabama marched down the
field on a series of runs to score the first points of the
game. On the first play, Hurts broke loose on a scramble
and streaked 20 yards to the Clemson 39-yard line. After
Scarbrough rumbled for four more yards and the Clemson 35,
a roughing the passer penalty on the next play moved the
ball to the Clemson 20. An illegal shift penalty by Alabama
moved the ball back five yards to the CU 25. After an
incomplete pass, Scarbrough got to the outside, as he
raced through a hole created by a big block by tight end
O.J. Howard and used some shifty running inside the 10 to
carry would-be tacklers into the end zone on a 25-yard
touchdown run. Place kicker Adam Griffith kicked the extra
point to put the score 7-0 in Alabama's favor.
Scott returned the ensuing kickoff 34 yards to the Clemson
44 before a 15-yard personal foul on the return backed the
Tigers up to their 29. Passes from Watson to Leggett for
eight yards and Williams for six yards gave the Tigers a
first down at their 43. Gallman and Watson ran for three
yards each on consecutive rushes, reaching the 49 before
an incomplete pass brought up fourth down and the Clemson
Starting at its own 16 after the punt, Alabama went to
Scarborough on three straight plays, picking up 12 yards
on two rushes and a pass reception, earning a first down.
After two incomplete passes, Alabama earned another first
down when running back Josh Jacobs raced for 13 yards up
the middle to the Alabama 41. A holding penalty, followed
by an incomplete pass, brought out Scott and the punt team.
Scott's punt was partially blocked by Clemson's Tanner
Muse, but the kick traveled forward for 25 yards to the
Tiger 37. Three plays later, on a third-and-five at the
Clemson 42, an errant center snap by Clemson bounced off
Watson's knee to create a fumble. Tide linebacker Ryan
Anderson picked it up and advanced it two yards to the
Clemson 35. The Tide failed to capitalize on the turn over,
going three-and-out. Scott's punt was downed by Alabama's
Levi Wallace at the one-yard line, pinning the Tigers deep.
After a three-yard rush by Scarbrough reached the Clemson
46, Hurts passed to wide receiver Calvin Ridley for eight
yards and a first down at the 38. After another completion
to Ridley picked up a yard to the 37, Scarbrough again
picked up key blocks downfield, running through a great
clearing block by tackle Cam Robinson, racing 37 yards
into the end zone. Griffith's extra point was true to give
Alabama a 14-0 lead with 10:42 left in the half.
A nine-yard pass by Watson to receiver Hunter Renfrow on
its first play of the drive was the only yardage Clemson
would gain on its next possession, going three-and-out.
Taking over on its own 35-yard line after the punt, Alabama
picked up a first down with a nine-yard Hurts to Ridley
completion before a one-yard gain by running back Damien
Harris was followed by back-to-back incompletions. That
brought out Scott for a 40-yard punt that went out of
bounds at the Clemson 13.
Clemson opened the drive with a five-yard rush by Gallman
before Watson hit Deon Cain for 43 yards on a short pass
that broke open. A pair of incompletions followed before
Watson found Leggett for 26 more yards to the Alabama
13-yard line. Watson passed to Williams for five more yards
to the eight. Watson then bounced to the outside on the
next play and raced to the pylon, getting the touchdown
on an eight-yard run and putting the Tigers on the board.
Greg Huegel made the extra point to cut Alabama's lead to
14-7 with 6:09 left in the first half.
Alabama earned a first down on its next possession when
Hurts found Ridley for a 15-yard reception before stalling
at the Clemson 44. Clemson answered by picking up one first
down on its next possession, a 20-yard Watson to Williams
reception. Three plays later, Clemson punted the ball back
to Alabama after a 33-yard punt to the Alabama 38.
After a three-and-out by Alabama, a 57-yard punt by Scott
was downed at the Tiger 5. A four-yard Gallman rush
followed by a 19-yard Watson to Renfrow throw and catch
got Clemson to its 28-yard line. Clemson's drive came to
halt at that point, forcing a punt with 19 seconds left
in the half. A Hurts to Stewart pass lost three yards and
brought the half to an end.
Hurts completed seven passes on 16 attempts for 40 yards
in the first half. Scarbrough tallied 76 yards and two
touchdowns on 12 rushing attempts. Ridley had five
receptions for 36 yards. Watson was 13-of-23 in the first
half for 153 yards. Gallman had gained 49 yards on 12
rushing attempts. Cain led the Tigers in receiving with
one catch for 43 yards.
Clemson opened the second half with the ball, and picked
up a quick first down on a three-yard run by Gallman
followed by an eight-yard Watson to Renfrow pass. An
incomplete pass was followed by Alabama's Ryan Anderson
stripping Watson of the ball, forcing and recovering the
fumble, before returning it 12 yards to the Clemson 16.
After the turnover, Alabama was moved back five yards to
the Clemson 21 on a false start penalty. Scarbrough gained
three of those yards back on the ground before Howard
caught a nine-yard pass from Hurts, getting the ball to
the Clemson nine-yard line and bring up fourth down.
Griffith came out at that point and knocked it through
the uprights on a 27-yard field goal attempt, extending
Alabama's lead to 17-7 with 12:25 left in the third quarter.
After running for five yards to open Clemson's next drive,
putting the Tigers on their own 21, Watson completed a
14-yard pass to Cain and a nine-yard pass to Renfrow to
get the ball to the Clemson 44. After Watson scrambled for
four more yards and a first down to the Clemson 49. Running
back C.J. Fuller then ran for three more yards before
Watson hit Williams for a six-yard pickup. An incomplete
pass brought up fourth down. The Tigers' offense came to
the line with Watson in the backfield. Clemson's
quarterback took the snap and pooch kicked the ball
38-yards to the Alabama five-yard line.
That flip of field position turned out to be a critical
point in the game.
Alabama went three-and-out on its next possession, giving
Clemson the ball back on the Tide 42. The Tigers took
advantage of the good field position, scoring in four
plays, traveling 42 yards, closing with a 24-yard Watson
to Renfrow touchdown pass with 7:10 left in the third
quarter. Huegel's extra point attempt was good, putting
the score at 17-14, with Alabama in the lead.
The Tide went three-and-out followed by a five-play drive
by Clemson before the Tigers were forced to punt. On the
following Alabama drive, Scarbrough picked up a first down
to the Tide 27. After an incomplete pass and a timeout,
Hurts found a wide-open Howard for a 68-yard touchdown pass
in an echo of last year's championship game. Griffith made
the extra point and Alabama's lead went to 24-14.
Starting on its 28 for its next drive, Clemson moved the
ball quickly as the quarter came to a close. A pass
interference call on first down, moved the ball 15 yards
to the Clemson 43. Watson then connected with Cain for
pickups of 11 and 12 yards. Watson followed that by hitting
Leggett for a 17 yard catch before throwing to Scott for
nine yards to the Alabama eight-yard line to bring the
third quarter to a close.
Watson opened the fourth quarter with a four-yard rush
before finding Williams for a four-yard touchdown pass.
Huegel made the point after attempt, to pull Clemson with
three, with Alabama leading 24-21.
Alabama started its first drive of the fourth quarter with
a 13-yard run by Damien Harris before Scott came out three
plays later and punted the ball 51 yards for a touchback.
Clemson and Alabama traded three-and-outs on the next two
drives. Clemson managed a first down on its next drive
before having to punt, which was followed by Alabama going
On the next drive, Watson mixed three complete passes for
52 yards with 20 yards rushing before handing the ball off
to Gallman, who plunged in from one-yard out for a
touchdown and a 28-24 Clemson lead following Huegel's
Alabama responded quickly, with Stewart catching a 15-yard
pass from Hurts on a crucial third-and-16 play. The
fourth-and-one play that followed was converted to a first
down on a run by Harris. Stewart took a lateral pass from
Hurts on the next play and threw it 24 yards to Howard at
the Clemson 30-yard line. On the next play, Hurts raced up
the middle for 30 yards and a touchdown. Following
Griffith's extra point, Alabama was back on top, 31-28,
with 2:01 on clock.
With the tension at its highest, Clemson opened the next
drive with three-straight completions that gained a
combined 25 yards to the Alabama 43. After rushing for a
yard, Watson threw to Renfrow for a six-yard pickup and
Leggett for a 17-yard completion to the Alabama nine-yard
line. A pass interference penalty on the Tide put Clemson
first-and-goal on the two-yard line with nine seconds on
the clock. Watson then hit Renfrow for a two-yard touchdown
pass with one second remaining. Huegel's point after
attempt was good and Clemson led, 35-31.
The Tigers onside kicked on the ensuing kickoff and
recovered the ball, sealing the game and earning Clemson's
second national championship in its history and its first
Alabama's 26-game winning streak ended with the Tide an
excruciating one second away from becoming the first team
in college football since 1897 (Penn) to win 15 games in a