Tide turn: Backup Tagovailoa lifts Bama to title

From ESPN - January 9, 2018

ATLANTA -- Freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa came off the bench in the second half to rescue Alabama's title hopes Monday, throwing for three touchdowns, the final one giving the Crimson Tide a 26-23 overtime victory over Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

Tagovailoa's 41-yard bomb to a wide-open DeVonta Smith on the second possession of overtime provided a stunning close to a championship game that Alabama trailed in for the first 56 minutes.

Tagovailoa got the surprise start to open the third quarter, coming in for two-year starter Jalen Hurts after a scoreless, if listless, first half that found the Crimson Tide trailing 13-0.

Hurts, last season's SEC Offensive Player of the Year and coming off an MVP performance in a semifinal win over Clemson last week, was largely ineffective in the first two quarters. He rushed for a team-high 47 yards but could not get the Tide into the end zone and struggled to throw against the Bulldogs, completing only three of eight passes for 21 yards.

That left Alabama coach Nick Saban with an agonizing choice: abandon his entrenched and productive starter in Hurts or risk it with Tagovailoa, clearly the better thrower of the two quarterbacks but someone who'd seen only spot duty in eight games this season.

"I thought Tua would give us a better chance and a spark, which he certainly did," Saban said. "I could not be prouder of him taking advantage of the opportunity. We have total confidence in him."


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