January 12, 2016 Louisville, KY. (Analyzed Sports)
2016 National Championship Game: Alabama 45, Clemson 40
Alabama won its 16th national championship in school history, defeating the Clemson Tigers Monday night, 38-27 in Glendale, Arizona. The win gives Nick Saban his fifth national championship, but his fourth championship at Alabama 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2016.
Alabama’s O.J. Howard would be the star of the game catching 5 receptions for 208 yards and two touchdowns helping the Crimson tied to their first ever College Football Playoff Championship in the two year history of the playoffs. The Heisman Trophy winner running back Derrick Henry would rush for 158 yards on 36 carries and 3 touchdowns.
Alabama struck first with an explosive 50 yard touchdown run by Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry at the 7:55 mark in the first quarter, this would be his 20 consecutive game with a touchdown. The Tigers would answer on the next possession with a 31-yard TD strike on a wheel route from Deshaun Watson to walk-on receiver Hunter Renfrow; capping off a six play 54 yard drive in over 2 minutes to tie the game at 7.
At the end of the first half Clemson’s quarterback Deshaun Watson was 12-18 for 128 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 turnover. Watson also scrambled for 45 yards on nine carries. On the other side of the ball 6’3 running back Derrick Henry did the most damage for the Crimson tide, rumbling for 128 yards rushing on 20 carries all in the first half. Alabama had zero turnovers in the first half, while quarterback Jake Coker went 9-13 for 82 yards passing. Both teams would go into the half tied at 14 points a piece.
Clemson got the ball first in the third quarter, but Alabama’s defense forced a three and out to open up the 2nd half. The Crimson Tide would then go on offense and Bama’s quarterback Jake Coker located a blown coverage in the Tigers defense to hurl a 53 yard touchdown pass to Tight-end O.J. Howard for what would be the tight-ends first touchdown pass on the season. This would give Alabama a 21-14 lead early in the third quarter. Clemson would answer the touchdown by Alabama with a field goal at the 10:10 mark. Greg Huegel would hit a 37-yard field to pull the Tigers within four points 21-17.
An onside conversion by Alabama in the 4th quarter would change the complexion of the game. Clemson would trail for the first time in a 4th quarter this year as Bama’s quarterback Jake Coker would find tight-end O.J. Howard again for his 2nd TD on another blown Tigers coverage to give the Tide a 31-24 lead with 9:45 remaining in the game. Clemson answered every time Alabama had a lead. This time the Tigers would march down the field to threaten to score only to come away with a field-goal to cut to lead to 31-27 with 7:45 remaining in the game.
Special teams would cost Clemson in the end when Kenyan Drake would take a kick-off return 95 yards to give the Crimson tide a 38-27 lead with under 8 minutes to play. The final score would be 45-40. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson finished 30-47 for 405 yards passing with 4 touchdowns and 1 interception in the defeat to the Crimson Tide.
“The kickoff return was really big too, so special teams really did it for us .”said Nick Saban after the game.
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