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Alabama Clinches NCAA Championship 26-23 In Overtime Against Georgia

Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa holds up the championship trophy after overtime of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Georgia, on Monday in Atlanta.
David J. Phillip
Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa holds up the championship trophy after overtime of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Georgia, on Monday in Atlanta.

Updated at 12:15 a.m. ET Tuesday

The Georgia Bulldogs got into the college football title game with an unexpected comeback for an overtime win against the Oklahoma Sooners. On Monday night, they had their championship hopes yanked away the same way.

In the fourth quarter ,the Alabama Crimson Tide made up lost ground, bringing the score with Georgia's Bulldogs to 20-20 with less than four minutes left in the College Football Playoff National Championship game in Atlanta.

Down to what might have been their last down, freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa flung the ball to the endzone on fourth down and found wide receiver Calvin Ridley. Georgia had been leading Alabama 20-7 in the the third quarter.

Alabama got the ball back, but kicker Andy Pappanastos pulled a 36-yard field goal wide, and the game went to overtime.

Georgia went first and managed a field goal of their own, and looked to be in good shape after a 16-yard sack of Tagovailoa on Alabama's first play. But Tagovailoa found wide receiver DeVonta Smith streaking down the left sideline for a touchdown, and Alabama's fifth national championship in nine seasons.

The Bulldogs had scored their second touchdown of the game on a 80-yard reception by receiver Mecole Hardman. Rodrigo Blankenship kicked the point-after.

After being held scoreless in the first half, Alabama got on the board with a 6-yard touchdown pass by freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to Henry Riggs III.

Tagovailoa started the second half for Alabama after a lackluster performance by starting quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Late in the second quarter, Georgia scored a touchdown on a one-yard run by Mecole Hardman. That capped off a 69-yard drive.

Blankenship earlier had kicked two field goals of 41 and 27 yards.

Georgia's freshman quarterback Jake Fromm has paced his team with a mix of medium-length passes which have set up the Bulldogs a potent running attack.

Georgia's offense dominated the game early with twice as many offensive plays as Alabama which hadn't managed to sustain a drive throughout the contest.

The game pitted Georgia's potent running game against Alabama's stout rushing defense.

Alabama is led by arguably the best college football coach in the game, Nick Saban, while Georgia is led by Kirby Smart, who spent nine years as a Saban assistant coach and was looking to best the master by bringing the Peach State its first title since 1980. No former assistant coach has ever beaten Saban.

President Trump, who once, as a football mogul, tried to break the National Football League's hold on pro football and failed, was there for the first half.

The Atlanta chapter of the NAACP encouraged people to stage a "snowflake" protest by waving small white towels at any mention of Trump. But apparently that didn't happen.

Chapter president Richard Rose told USA Today that his group would also protest on social media, but their planned action would be limited.

"Rose said the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP will not officially participate in any physical gathering before or during the game due to weather and security concerns," reported the national daily.

It was likely that Trump would be on safe ground at a game between competitors of two deep-red states.

But as the New Yorker pointed out:

"While it's true that Alabama and Georgia went for Trump in the 2016 presidential election, he's not exactly beloved in either state. Clarke County, Georgia, home to the UGA, went for Hillary Clinton in 2016 by a nearly 40 percent margin. And Alabama recently dealt Trump a double whammy in the special election to fill the seat left vacant by his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Republicans in the state first rejected Trump-endorsed Luther Strange in the GOP primary and then dealt a loss to Roy Moore in last month's special election."

And in case you're wondering how popular Nick Saban is in Alabama, consider this: more than 400 voters cast their ballot during that recent special election for the 66-year-old coach as a write-in candidate. Not that Saban ever did anything to encourage that support. As Al.com reports, Saban said bluntly, "I don't get involved in politics."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.
Chris Hopkins