Recap by Stone Shields | Art by Lauren Maier
Number four Alabama proved they did indeed belong in the College Football Playoff with a dominating 24-6 victory over the number one Dabo Swinney led Clemson Tigers.
The Crimson Tide dropped ten points on the defending national champions in the first quarter including a 12-yard touchdown pass from true Sophomore Jalen Hurts to Junior Calvin Ridley.
The Tide looked to extend their lead to 13-0 at the end of the first half but kicker Andy Pappanastos pulled his kick and knocked it off the goal post.
Alabama got the ball to start the second half, but quickly turned it over on a Jalen Hurts fumble to give the Clemson offense great starting field position and seemingly new life. However, the Tide defense led by Junior defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick didn’t budge and only gave up three points on an Alex Spence field goal.
Clemson’s Junior Quarterback and first year starter Kelly Bryant had his struggles throwing two costly interceptions in the second half and only going 18-36 for 124 yards on the night.
Bryant’s first pick went to Junior Defensive Tackle Da’Ron Payne in the third quarter who later caught a one yard touchdown pass from Jalen Hurts on Alabama’s following drive.
Seconds later, Bryant threw another pick, this one was returned by Sophomore Mack Wilson for a touchdown to cap the scoring and give Nick Saban’s crew a 18 point advantage.
From then on it, was all defense from both clubs until Clemson made a last gasp effort to score deep in Alabama territory with a minute and change left, but couldn’t convert on fourth down which sealed the victory for the Tide.
Jalen Hurts went 16-24 for 120 yards and two touchdowns, which earned him Offensive Player of the Game awards, with Da’Ron Payne’s performance winning the same award on the defensive end.
Junior Damien Harris led the Tide on the ground rushing for 77 yards on 19 carries and Travis Etienne led the Tigers with 22 yards rushing but was limited to only four carries due to a head injury he suffered in the first quarter.
Alabama looks to avenge their 2017 National Championship loss Monday night against SEC foe Georgia.