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Alabama defeats Clemson, 45-40, to win College Football Playoff title

Alabama defeated Clemson, 45-40, in the College Football Playoff championship game on Monday in Glendale, Ariz. to give Coach Nick Saban his fifth national title, including four in the last seven seasons.

Crimson Tide tight end O.J. Howard had 208 yards receiving and two touchdowns while Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry scored three times.

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson passed for 405 yards with four touchdown throws and rushed for another 73 yards in the Tigers' first loss of the season. Receiver Hunter Renfrow caught seven passes for 88 yards, two of those were touchdown receptions in the first quarter.

PHOTO GALLERY: Alabama vs. Clemson

Coin toss: Clemson wins the toss and defers. The Tigers will receive the ball to start the second half.

First quarter:

  • Derrick Henry runs 50 yards for a touchdown (Alabama 7, Clemson 0) 7:55
  • Hunter Renfrow catches a 31-yard pass from Deshaun Watson for a touchdown (Alabama 7, Clemson 7) 5:18
  • Hunter Renfrow catches an 11-yard pass from Deshaun Watson for a touchdown (Clemson 14, Alabama 7) 0:00

Second quarter:

  • Derrick Henry dives into the end zone for a touchdown from the one-yard line (Clemson 14, Alabama 14) 9:35

Third quarter:

  • O.J. Howard catches a deep pass from Jake Coker and goes 53 yards for a touchdown (Alabama 21, Clemson 14) 12:53
  • Greg Huegel hits a 37 yard field goal (Alabama 21, Clemson 17) 10:10
  • Wayne Gallman runs one-yard for a touchdown (Clemson 24, Alabama 21) 4:48

Fourth quarter:

  • Adam Griffith makes a 33 yard field goal (Clemson 24, Alabama 24) 10:34
  • O.J. Howard catches a 51 yard pass from Joke Coker for a touchdown (Alabama 31, Clemson 24) 9:45
  • Greg Huegel makes a 31 yard field goal (Alabama 31, Clemson 27) 7:47
  • Kenyan Drake returns kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown (Alabama 38, Clemson 27) 7:31
  • Artavis Scott catches a 15 yard throw from Deshaun Watson for a touchdown -- Clemson failed to convert the two-point try (Alabama 38, Clemson 33) 4:40
  • Derrick Henry goes one yard for a touchdown (Alabama 45, Clemson 33) 1:07
  • Jordan Leggett catches a 24-yard pass for a touchdown (Alabama 45, Clemson 40) 0:12

Alabama wins the College Football Championship game

The Alabama dynasty continues.

The Crimson Tide defeated Clemson, 45-40, to win the College Football Championship game Monday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

It is the fifth national title for Coach Nick Saban and his fourth in the last seven years with the Crimson Tide.

Alabama finishes 14-1 overall, while Clemson’s once-perfect record falls to 14-1.

The game was tied at halftime, 14-14, before Alabama’s special teams made two game-changing plays in the second half.

Adam Griffith kicked a 33-yard field goal to tie the score at 24 and then Saban called for an unexpected on-side kick that his team recovered.

Two plays later, Jake Coker completed a 50-yard pass to tight end O.J. Howard for a touchdown.

Clemson responded with a 31-yard field goal, but then it was Kenyan Drake’s turn on special teams as he sprinted 95 yards, returning a kickoff for a touchdown and a 38-27 lead.

The Tide never looked back.

Coker completed 16 of 25 passes for 335 yards and two touchdowns, while Heisman Trophy winning running back Derrick Henry rushed for 158 yards in 36 carries and three touchdowns.

Howard who was the improbable difference in the Tide’s offense, catching five passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns, his first two touchdowns of the season.

Deshaun Watson completed 30 of 47 passes for 405 yards and four touchdowns, with an interception. He rushed for 73 yards in 20 plays.

GIF: Nick Saban wins his fifth national title

Alabama defeats Clemson, 45-40, for CFP title

Alabama 45, Clemson 40 - final

Clemson's attempt at an on-side kick went out of bounds and Alabama ended the game in the victory formation. 

Alabama 45, Clemson 40 -- 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter

Clemson scored quickly, but barring a miracle, it won’t be enough to overtake Alabama.

Deshaun Watson completed a 24-yard pass to Jordan Leggett for a touchdown.

The drive covered 68 yards in six plays.

Charone Peake caught a six-yard, 28-yard and 10-yard pass on the drive.

Alabama 45, Clemson 33 -- 1:07 left in the fourth quarter

Third and goal, Derrick Henry spun and barely made it across the goal line — but he did.

Alabama touchdown.

The Crimson Tide went 75 yards in eight plays and took a critical 3:33 off the clock.

O.J. Howard has been the hero of the game for Alabama.

The junior tight end caught a 63-yard pass and sprinted down the sideline to Clemson’s 14-yard line. He has caught five passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns.

On third and three, Jake Coker beat Clemson — with his feet - as he scrambled and dove for what likely will be the most important first-down of the game if Alabama holds on to win.

Clemson will have the ball on its own 42-yard line.

Video: Review says Henry got in for his third TD

Video: Scott's TD grab pulls Clemson closer to Alabama

Alabama 38, Clemson 33 -- 4:40 left in the fourth quarter

This is a College Football Championship game for the ages.

Deshaun Watson completed a 15-yard pass to Artavis Scott for a touchdown and it is a one-possession game.

Clemson attempted a two-point conversion, but it failed.

Wayne Gallman was the hero of the drive. He caught a 14-yard pass and stretched for a first-down on his second effort.

A few plays later, he caught a short pass and made a second and then third effort to gain 39 yards. 

The scoring drive covered 75 yards in eight plays.

Did you see that? Kenyan Drake's 95-yard kick return for a touchdown

Having flashbacks?

Alabama 38, Clemson 27 -- 7:31 left in the fourth quarter

Kenyan Drake fielded the kickoff, got to the edge and sprinted 95 yards -- diving for the pile on -- for an Alabama touchdown.

That's the second outstanding play by Alabama's special teams in the second half.

Who would have guessed, the College Football Championship game -- featuring the Heisman Trophy winner and a runner-up -- coming down to special teams?

Video: Huegel makes 31 yard field goal

Alabama 31, Clemson 27 -- 7:47 left in the fourth quarter

Clemson settled for a 31-yard field goal after a promising start to the drive.

Deshaun Watson completed a 25-yard pass to Hunter Renfrow and then Wayne Gallman broke for his longest run of the game, going 34 yards.

Then, Watson was tackled for a three-yard loss and completed a six-yard pass to Renfrow.

On third and seven, Watson intended for Jordan Leggett in the end zone, but it fell incomplete.

The scoring drive covered 61 yards in six plays.

Clemson settles for a field goal

Alabama 31, Clemson 24 -- 9:45 left in the fourth quarter

O.J. Howard went into the College Football Championship game without having caught a touchdown pass all season, but now the Alabama tight end has caught two.

Jake Coker completed a 50-yard pass to the wide-open Howard, who trotted into the end zone. 

The drive took two plays and covered 50 yards.

It started in the most unexpected way, when Nick Saban called for an onside kick after a field goal. 

It was perfectly executed, Dabo Swinney lost his mind on the sideline, and the Crimson Tide had great position on the 50. 

Video: O.J. Howard's 51-yard touchdown reception

Video: Griffith field goal ties the game, 24-24

Alabama 24, Clemson 24 -- 10:34 left in the fourth quarter

Jake Coker completed an improbable 38-yard pass to ArDarius Stewart on third and 11, but Alabama still had to settled for a 33-yard field goal.

Coker completed a 25-yard pass to Stewart on the first, Stewart’s first reception of the game.

Derrick Henry rushed for a yard and then Jalen Williams tackled him for a two-yard loss the next play.

That set up Coker’s third-down pass to Stewart. It was a heave of a throw and a jaw-dropping catch down the sideline.

Henry then rushed for two yards before Coker aimed for Calvin Ridley in the end zone, but Adrian Baker, in for the injured MacKensie Alexander, made a great break up.

Coker’s third and eight pass fell incomplete.

Adam Griffith kicked the field goal.

Alabama ties it with a field goal, 24-24

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