By: Fletcher Keel | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
January 9, 2018
ATLANTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- The Alabama Crimson Tide trailed 20-7 with 5:16 left in the third quarter but mounted a comeback on the heels of a 19-3 run to end the game in defeating the Georgia Bulldogs, 26-23, in the National Championship Game.
Georgia's Rodrigo Blankenship hit a 51-yard field goal to open the scoring in overtime, giving the Dawgs a 23-20 lead, but true freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who entered the game in the second half in place of starter Jalen Hurts, launched a 41-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith, hitting him in stride, as the Tide scored to win the game.
The Dawgs and Tide played to a scoreless first quarter but Georgia scored the first points of the game with 14:14 remaining in the first half on a 41-yard Rodrigo Blankenship field goal.
Blankenship made it 6-0 on the very next drive, this time hitting a 27-yard field goal to put UGA up 6-0.
The Dawgs put the first touchdown on the board with seven seconds left in the first half on a Mecole Hardman one-yard touchdown rush out of the wildcat formation, to give Georgia a 13-0 lead at halftime.
At the half, the Dawgs had 223 yards of total offense compared to Bama’s 94, and held the ball for 19:23 in the opening two frames.
Out of the halftime break, Tagovailoa went three-and-out in his first drive but took the Tide down the field for their first touchdown of the game when he found Henry Ruggs in the back of the end zone for a six-yard touchdown pass to pull Alabama within 13-7.
UGA answered quickly on the next drive when Fromm found Hardman on a deep ball down the sideline for an 80-yard touchdown to extend the Dawgs lead to 20-7.
Bama added a 43-yard and 30-yard field goal to make it 20-13, and Tagovailoa found Calvin Ridley in the end zone from seven yards out to tie the game, as part of a run of 12 unanswered points to force overtime.
Alabama had an opportunity to win the game in regulation, but the 36-yard field goal was missed.
Bama finished with 371 yards of offense, and Tagovailoa finished with 116 passing yards on 14-of-24 passing with three touchdowns. Najee Harris added 64 yards on the ground, on six carries.
UGA totaled 365 yards, including 232 passing yards from Jake Fromm who completed 16-of-32 attempts along with a touchdown and two interceptions.
With the win, Alabama wins their fifth title under Nick Saban (since 2009) and becomes the second four seed to win the College Football Playoff championship.