A year after narrowly losing in the national title game, Clemson got its revenge on Monday, handing Alabama its first loss of the season in a thrilling 35-31 decision that saw the Tigers trail all game until the final minutes. It's Clemson's second national championship, their only other coming in 1981.
Three former high school players are also basking in the glow of this win. Andy Teadall played at Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem, Chris Register played at Dudley and Diondre Overton played for Page High in Greensboro.
Clemson National Champs After Win Over Alabama
Clemson took its first lead of the game off a Wayne Gallman touchdown run with 4:38 remaining.
How they 'crushed' Alabama's hopes of winning:
The play is called “Crush,” a staple of the Clemson offense, and as co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott lobbied for the Tigers to run it one last time this season with nothing less than a national title at stake, he had to step back and appreciate the ending they were about to write.
As Scott saw it unfold, the best quarterback to ever wear a Clemson uniform was going to take a snap with six seconds left, sprint to his right so he could get the ball out before time expired and fling it to a 5-foot-nothing receiver who didn’t have a single scholarship offer from the
Hunter Renfrow’s catch from
“It’s two ends of the spectrum: A five-star (recruit) to a guy that was a walk-on, and that really kind of epitomizes our program,” Scott said. “No matter how highly recruited you were, there’s an appreciation and love for every single guy in this program, and that starts at the top.”
In the blur of tension-filled drives and exhilarating plays over the final 6½ minutes, which called for Clemson to go 88 yards to take the lead and then another 68 after Alabama’s stunning touchdown with 2:07 left, it was no surprise that the Tigers leaned on Renfrow in the moment that mattered most.
Ever since he stepped on campus, turning down scholarships from the likes of Furman and
“We can’t cover him in practice,” Clemson defensive coordinator
A year ago, Renfrow broke out in the national championship game with a season-high seven catches for 88 yards against Alabama. But even before then, he had earned the full respect of Watson and Clemson’s bevy of talented and highly recruited skill players.
The Crimson Tide defeated the Tigers, 45-40, in last year's national title game.
Deshaun Watson, this season's Heisman runner-up who had a historic performance in last year's title game loss, finished with 418 passing yards and three touchdowns.