The matchup that entire nation had been waiting for since last year, finally came to light on Monday. Alright that’s technicality, but you know what I mean. There were some stars the country were ready to see, most notably Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry and the very athletic Deshaun Watson.
1st and 2nd Qtr: It was back and forth at the beginning. Alabama drew first blood with a 50 yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry. Clemson answered back with two touchdown passes both from Watson to the surprising Hunter Renfrow. Renfrow entered Monday night’s game with only three touchdown receptions this season, one of which was caught in the semifinals game against the Sooners. The second quarter was dry at first, Henry would another touchdown to the stat sheet as the Tide would capitalize on a interception from Eddie Jackson. This would lead us into half tied at 14-14, after a missed field goal by the Tigers that seemed to be tipped.
3rd Qrt: Bama would get things going for us again in the second half as Jake Coker would hook up with O.J. Howard for 53 yard touchdown pass. Clemson would make it to just outside the redzone on their next drive, but drop two passes in the endzone and have to settle for a field goal. Clemson would then get the ball back after a three and out by Alabama, and score on a one yard rushing touchdown by Wayne Gallman.
4th Qtr: The fourth quarter started with little action. About three minutes in the fourth quarter Alabama would convert on a huge third down via a 38 yard pass from signal caller Jake Coker to ArDarius Stewart. Bama would fail to convert their next third down and have to settle for a field goal to tie. The next play would be shocking as Alabama would recover an onside pooch kick. Two plays later O.J. Howard would haul in another touchdown for 51 yards, Bama taking a 31-24 fourth quarter lead. Clemson on their next drive would move downfield quickly, but only to score on a 31 yard field goal. On the kickoff Kenyan Drake would make a spectacular 95 yard kickoff return, leaving Clemson with a 38-27 deficit with seven and a half minutes left. Clemson answered with a 15 yard Watson to Artavis Scott toss, they would fail to convert the two point attempt. On the ensuing drive O.J. Howard would make another big play to put the Tide in the redzone with 63 yard catch and run. After a series of goal line stands, Derrick Henry would put the dagger into the heart of the Tigers by scoring a one yard touchdown. Clemson wouldn’t give up however, and with 17 ticks left, Watson would throw a 24 yard touchdown pass to Charone Peake, but it would unfortunately be too late.
It was a good game, played by good teams that both had their strengths and weaknesses. None of the strengths were surprising or unexpected. The Tide had a strong rushing game led by Derrick Henry who had 158 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Despite an early interception thrown by Deshaun Watson, he had one heck of a game. He went 30 of 47 for 405 yards passing, four touchdowns, one pick, and 73 yards rushing. That doesn’t show the plays he extended with excellent athleticism, or one of the most beautiful passes I have ever seen with that first touchdown he threw to Renfrow. My MVP candidate is O.J. Howard. He had five receptions for 208 yards and two touchdowns, that’s merely a stat line. Here’s what he really did. He caught two long touchdown scores, but perhaps his most impactful play was a 63 yard catch that while it didn’t score them any points. It aided the Tide in putting the Tigers away. It was a great game, with plenty of highlights, it’s a shame someone had to lose.