Jalen Hurts steps in at quar­ter­back and ral­lies Al­abama past Ge­or­gia for SEC

Backup ral­lies Tide in echo of na­tional cham­pi­onship story

Albany Times Union - Sunday - - SPORTS - At­lanta

In a dra­matic twist on last season’s na­tional cham­pi­onship game, Jalen Hurts came off the bench to pass for one touch­down and run for an­other in the fourth quar­ter, ral­ly­ing No. 1 Al­abama to a 35-28 win over No. 4 Ge­or­gia for the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence ti­tle Satur­day.

Heis­man Tro­phy fa­vorite Tua Tago­v­ailoa had to be helped off the field with just over 11 min­utes re­main­ing af­ter one of his own line­men stepped on the quar­ter­back’s right an­kle as he at­tempted to throw.

En­ter Hurts, who led Al­abama to the na­tional ti­tle game as a fresh­man but lost the start­ing job to Tago­v­ailoa. Hurts calmly guided the Crim­son Tide (130, No. 1 CFP) to a game-ty­ing touch­down with a 10-yard pass to Jerry Jeudy, cap­ping a 16-play, 80-yard drive that con­sumed more than 7 min­utes .

Af­ter Ge­or­gia (11-2, No. 4 CFP) was stuffed on a fake punt near mid­field , Hurts took mat­ters into his own hands for the win­ning score. Spot­ting an open­ing up the mid­dle, he took off on a 15-yard TD run with 1:04 re­main­ing .

“All year, I’ve kind of been wait­ing on my op­por­tu­nity,” Hurts said. “My op­por­tu­nity came to­day. I worked so hard this week with my team­mates. We found a way to get it done to­day.”

This was a re­ver­sal of the sto­ry­line from last season’s na­tional ti­tle game, when Tago­v­ailoa re­placed an in­ef­fec­tive Hurts at the start of the sec­ond half with Al­abama trail­ing Ge­or­gia 13-0. The re­place­ment threw three touch­down passes, in­clud­ing a 41-yarder in over­time that gave the Tide a stun­ning 2623 vic­tory.

Tago­v­ailoa won the start­ing job in pre­sea­son prac­tice and per­formed bril­liantly dur­ing the reg­u­lar season, throw­ing 36 touch­down passes with only two in­ter­cep­tions.

The SEC ti­tle game took a dif­fer­ent path. Ge­or­gia put quite a beat­ing on Tago­v­ailoa, who was picked off twice, spent much of his spare time in the med­i­cal tent and was largely in­ef­fec­tive as the Bull­dogs built a pair of two-touch­down leads.

This time, it was Hurts who bailed out the Crim­son Tide. When he trot­ted off the field af­ter the win­ning TD, Tago­v­ailoa was one of the first ones to greet him on the side­line. Af­ter­ward, they stood side-by-side on the podium in the mid­dle of the field while Al­abama re­ceived its SEC cham­pi­onship tro­phy.

Al­abama coach Nick

Sa­ban summed it up best: “Wow.”

Now, the Crim­son Tide are headed back to the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off, look­ing for its sec­ond straight na­tional ti­tle and the sixth of the last decade un­der Sa­ban.

“I know at Al­abama, there’s al­ways an op­por­tu­nity to win,” Hurts said. “We worked so hard in the off­sea­son — blood, sweat and tears to­gether. To­day, we found a way to get it done. I’m so happy, so happy for every­body.”

Ge­or­gia can make a pretty good case for the play­off, too, but the Bull­dogs will likely get left out.

Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

Jalen Hurts runs with the ball as Ge­or­gia’s Wal­ter Grant tries to make a tackle dur­ing the fourth quar­ter of Al­abama’s 35-28 win.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.