Clemson University scored a touchdown in the final seconds of the U.S. national college football championship game Monday night to defeat defending champion Alabama 35-31.
The 2-yard pass gave Clemson its first football national championship since 1981, and avenged last year’s title game loss to Alabama.
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson said after the game he told his teammates not to panic before the final play.
“Let’s go be great. We’re built for moments like this, and let’s go finish it,” he said before completing the touchdown to receiver Hunter Renfrow in the corner of the end zone.
Watson finished the game with 420 passing yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 43 yards and another touchdown.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney called the win “a blessing.”
“We came up a little short last year, but tonight at the top of the mountain, that Clemson flag is flying,” he said.
Alabama had won 26 games in a row, and four of the last seven national championships.
The perennial powerhouse looked to be in line for its second consecutive title after first-year quarterback Jalen Hurts scored on a 30-yard run with 2:07 remaining to give Alabama a 31-28 lead.
But the Crimson Tide could not stop Clemson as it drove back down the field to grab the victory.
“Look, there’s not one play in the game that makes a difference in a game,” said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. “We could have done a lot of things a lot better. But I have to say that I was proud of the way our guys competed in the game, and just sorry for all of them that we didn’t finish it better.”