Hurts ral­lies No. 1 Al­abama to win over No. 4 Ge­or­gia

Connecticut Post (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 ( 13- 0, No. 1 CFP) to game- ty­ing touch­down with a 10- yard pass to Jerry Jeudy.

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 .

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 26- 23 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.

Now, Al­abama is headed back to the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off, look­ing for its sec­ond straight na­tional ti­tle and the sixth of the last decade un­der coach Nick Sa­ban.

NO. 5 OK­LA­HOMA 39, NO. 9 TEXAS 27

AR­LING­TON, Texas — Kyler Mur­ray threw for 379 yards and three touch­downs as Ok­la­homa beat Texas in the Big 12 cham­pi­onship game, with the Soon­ers aveng­ing their only loss and mak­ing their case for a re­turn to the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off.

Mur­ray, the Heis­man Tro­phy- con­tend­ing du­althreat quar­ter­back, threw two of his TDs to Grant Cal­caterra. That in­cluded an im­pres­sive 18- yard score on a third- and- 10 play with two min­utes left as the Soon­ers ( 12- 1, No. 5 CFP) won their sev­enth con­sec­u­tive game de­spite be­ing held to fewer than 40 points for the first time in nine games.

Sam Eh­linger was 23of- 36 pass­ing for 349 yards with two touch­downs, and he also ran for two scores for Texas ( 9- 4), but his fi­nal pass was picked off by Tre Nor­wood at the 1 in the fi­nal minute.

NO. 8 UCF 56, MEM­PHIS 41

OR­LANDO, Fla. — Darriel Mack shrugged off two early turnovers to rush for three sec­ond- half touch­downs and rally UCF over Mem­phis in the Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game.

With the red­shirt fresh­man fill­ing in for in­jured quar­ter­back McKen­zie Mil­ton, the Knights ( 12- 0, No. 8 CFP) won their sec­ond straight league ti­tle and ex­tended the na­tion’s long­est win­ning streak to 25 games.

Mack also threw for 348 yards and two TDs with­out an in­ter­cep­tions to keep UCF, the only FBS team to fin­ish un­de­feated a year ago, in the con­ver­sa­tion about who’s de­serv­ing of con­sid­er­a­tion for berths in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off.

Greg McCrae rushed for 206 yards and one TD for the Knights, who beat the Tigers 62- 55 in the 2017 AAC ti­tle game and ral­lied from a 16- point sec­ond- half deficit to win 31- 30 at Mem­phis dur­ing the reg­u­lar season.

NO. 24 IOWA ST. 27, DRAKE 24

AMES, Iowa — David Mont­gomery ran for 145 yards and two touch­downs and Iowa State barely sur­vived a near- up­set by non­schol­ar­ship FCS school Drake.

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