ATLANTA (AP) — Alabama beat Georgia 26-23 in overtime to win its fifth national championship since 2009 under Nick Saban.
Freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith after getting sacked on Alabama’s opening play of the extra session. Georgia had the ball first in overtime, and Rodrigo Blankenship kicked a 51-yard field goal.
Alabama’s Andy Pappanastos missed what would have been the winning 36-yard field goal as time ran out in regulation.
Tagovailoa took over for an ineffective Jalen Hurts to start the second half and led the Crimson Tide to two touchdowns and two field goals as they erased deficits of 13-0 at half and 20-7 in the middle of the third quarter.
It’s the 11th national title for the Crimson Tide. Georgia was seeking its second title after winning it all in 1980.
Alabama’s thrilling win over Georgia was the first national championship game to go to overtime since 2003.
That’s the year Ohio State outlasted Miami 31-24 in double overtime at the Fiesta Bowl in a game that settled the BCS Championship.
There have been some close games since, including the 41-38 Rose Bowl classic in 2006 when Texas beat Southern California. Two years ago, Alabama beat Clemson 45-40 and then the Tigers returned the favor last season with a 35-31 win decided on a last-second touchdown pass.