Hurts gets TD late to give Tide SEC ti­tle

Lexington Herald-Leader (Sunday) - - Sports -

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 10yard 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.

Ge­or­gia can make a pretty good case for the play­off, too, but the Bull­dogs will likely get left out. Big 12 cham­pion Ok­la­homa avenged its only loss by beat­ing Texas, and No. 6 Ohio State still had a chance to make its case in the Big Ten ti­tle game.

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