|David J. Phillip / Associated Press|
Clemson won the coin toss and elected to defer, giving the ball to the Tide at kickoff. Heisman trophy winner and Alabama RB Derrick Henry couldn't make it past his linemen and the Tide were forced to punt without score. Clemson followed suit and was unable to convert on third down before punting with nine minutes left in the quarter. Henry had a huge 50 yard run for a TD to put the first points on the board. Two minutes later, DeShaun Watson threw a perfect spiral into the end zone for a 31 yard TD pass to WR Hunter Renfrow. Even with Henry on their side, the Tide was held to a field goal attempt that they couldn't convert and Clemson answered with another quick TD pass from Watson to Renfrow. The score at the end of the first quarter was 14-7 Clemson with Watson completing 7 of 11 attempts for 108 yards and two TDs. Alabama QB Jake Coker had trouble in the beginning of the second as he was unable to convert on third down and was sacked before attempting to score. Watson throws an interception- his first of the game- to Crimson Tide S Eddie Jackson leading to a one yard TD run by Henry. The Tide ties up the game 14-14 and both teams are unable to convert on third down twice, ending the first half with a tied score.
The Tide comes out guns blazing with a 53 yard TD pass from Coker to TE O.J. Howard and an extra point. Shortly after, Clemson's offense is held to a 37 yard FG before the Tide punts the ball away on fourth down. The Tigers add another 7 points to the board after RB Wayne Gallman has a one yard TD following a 60 yard drive. Both teams are forced to punt consecutively with Clemson up by three at the end of the third. The Tide and the Tigers are again unable to convert on third down at the start of the fourth quarter and punt the ball away until Alabama K Adam Griffith completes a 33 yard field goal to tie the game. Griffith kicks a foolproof onside kick, which the Tide recovers, leading to a 51 yard TD pass from Coker to Howard. Clemson completes a 31 yard FG but Alabama WR Kenyan Drake returns a kick for a 95 yard TD. DeShaun Watson isn't done yet, as he perfectly hits WR Artavis Scott for a 15 yard TD keeping the score within 5. Coker hits Howard again for another deep pass and Heisman winner Henry dives into the end zone for a one yard TD. With only 12 seconds left, Watson hits TE Jordan Leggett with a 24 yard TD to keep the score at 45-40 Alabama. The Tide recovers the onside kick with only a few seconds left and takes a knee to end the game.
With a five point win, the Alabama Crimson Tide earned their 16th national championship and fourth under Coach Nick Saban.