LOS ANGELES: The Alabama Crimson Tide claimed their fourth US college football title in seven years with a nail-biting 45-40 victory over No. 1 ranked Clemson Tigers on Monday (Tuesday in Manila).
The Crimson Tide used a quartet of scoring plays that covered 50-plus yards and set up the go-ahead touchdown by recovering an onside kick with 10:34 to go in the second half.
Heisman Trophy winning running back Derrick Henry sealed the victory with a one-yard touchdown run with 67 seconds remaining, extending Alabama’s lead to 45-33 in front of a crowd of 75,700 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona.
“This team made a tremendous commitment to one another and that is why I am so happy for them,” said coach Nick Saban, who earned his fifth career national title.
“This is my favorite team— well, it is hard to pick one over the others—but these guys have come so far to do the things they needed to do to be the team they could be.”
The Tigers battled to the finish in a wild second half that featured a combined 40 points.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson’s 24-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Leggett with 12 seconds remaining brought Clemson to within a score, but the ensuing onside kick went out of bounds.
Alabama tight end O.J. Howard finished with five catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Henry ran 36 times for 158 yards and three touchdowns, including a 50-yard romp to start the scoring.
Quarterback Jake Coker finished 16-for-25 for 235 yards. He connected on scoring passes of 53 and 51 yards to Howard in the second half.
Alabama’s explosive offense was just enough to offset a superb performance from Clemson’s Watson, who showed off not only his passing but also his running game.
He completed 30-of-47 passes for 405 yards and four touchdowns, and he ran 20 times for 73 yards.