Brianna MacKay | On 14, Jan 2018
The Crimson Tide just keeps rolling and has rolled into their fifth College Football National Championship in the last nine years. On January 8, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Georgia Bulldogs in a 26-23 overtime battle. In the game that won Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban his sixth career national championship, the big stories were freshmen players and big comebacks.
The first quarter of the game was an SEC defensive battle with the opening drive for Georgia ending in an interception, the opening drive for Alabama ending with a missed field goal, and the quarter ending tied at 0-0.
That quickly changed for Georgia when, within the first 46 seconds of the second quarter, they scored the first points of the game with 41-yard field goal to make the score 3-0. The Bulldogs continued to score throughout the quarter with another field goal and the first touchdown of the game in the final minute of the half. Alabama, on the other hand, only continued to struggle on offense and remained scoreless for the whole first half, making the score 13-0 at halftime.
While out on the field Kendrick Lamar was performing in the first halftime show in the history of the College Football National Championship, inside the Crimson Tide’s locker room, there was a big change being made. The decision was made during halftime by Nick Saban to put in true freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in to replace sophomore Jalen Hurts, who had been Alabama’s quarterback all season up to that point.
With a new quarterback in for Alabama, the second half started and gave Crimson Tide fans a spark of hope when they scored their first touchdown of the game off a 6-yard pass from Tagovailoa to freshman wide receiver Henry Ruggs III, making he score 13-7 with the Bulldogs still in the lead. Right after the Crimson Tide scored though, Georgia answered with a touchdown of their own, putting their lead back up to 13 with the score being 20-7. The third quarter ended with the only other scoring play being a field goal for Alabama and the score at 20-10 in favor of the Bulldogs.
The final quarter of the game was a big one for the Crimson Tide, scoring a field goal and a touchdown to tie the game at 20-20 with 3:49 to play and an opportunity to win it in the final seconds of regulation. With time expiring on the clock, Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos missed a 36-yard field goal, sending the championship game into overtime.
The Georgia Bulldogs started with the ball first in overtime and put up a field goal making the score 23-20 and Alabama either match or beat that with their possession. During the first play on offensive for Alabama in overtime, Tagovailoa was sacked and lost 16 yards, making it 2nd and 26 and difficult to get into field goal range, let alone score a touchdown on the next play to end the game. But despite that, the freshman quarterback that had barely played any college snaps before that night threw a beautiful 41-yard pass to fellow freshman DeVonta Smith winning not only the game for Alabama, but the National Championship as well.