Late TD lifts Clemson to coveted collegiate crown

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 10 2017 03:08 PM

The Clemson Tigers celebrate after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

MIAMI -- Deshaun Watson threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow with one second to play Monday to lift Clemson to a 35-31 victory over Alabama in college football's championship game in Tampa, Florida.

With the dramatic win the Tigers avenged their 45-40 loss to the Crimson Tide in last year's final at Glendale, Arizona.

Clemson quarterback Watson completed 36 of 56 passes for 420 yards and three touchdowns.

Four players -- Jordan Leggett, Mike Williams, Deon Cain and Renfrow -- topped 90 receiving yards for Clemson.

Alabama's freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts had given the Crimson Tide -- unbeaten in 14 prior games this season -- a 31-28 lead with 2:07 left on a 30-yard touchdown run.

But Watson responded by piloting a nine-play, 68-yard drive for the win saying he told his teammates in the huddle not to panic because "we were built for moments like this."

Clemson added a second national championship to the title they won in 1981, resisting college football's strongest powerhouse to do so.

Alabama were vying for a fifth title in eight years and for much of the night they had the upper hand.

The Crimson Tide led 14-0, 17-7 and, to start the fourth quarter, 24-14.

But Watson, a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist who is a likely top-five pick in the NFL draft later this year, withstood the punishing Alabama defense and produced his best when it mattered most.

His four-yard pass to Mike Williams with 14 minutes remaining pulled the Tigers within 24-21.

The Tigers took a 28-24 lead with 4:38 left in the fourth quarter when Wayne Gallman powered in from one yard out.

It was the first time all season Alabama had trailed in a fourth quarter.

"I'm speechless now," he said after he and his teammates ended Alabama's 26-game winning streak.

"We're national champion and it's amazing. We worked so hard for it and we fell short last year... I don't even know what to say."

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