Hollywood could not have come up with a better script. Clemson’s most important football recruit ever throws the final pass of his college career for a touchdown….to a former walk-on noless… and the Tigers win their second national championship on the same day the guy who won the first one was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
The Tigers defeated Alabama Monday night in Tampa 35-31 coming from behind twice in the fourth quarter to win a game that will rank with the all time greats. The Tigers had to fight back all night after falling in a 14-0 hole. They went to the fourth quarter down by ten but their three touchdowns offset Alabama’s one. And the final one, a two yard pass from Deshaun Watson to Hunter Renfrow with a second to play, made the Tigers champions.
Clemson may never see a player like Watson again, and Alabama certainly hopes it doesn’t. The Tigers wanted to establish the run with both Watson and Wayne Gallman but never could and finished with only 91 yards on the ground. Watson, however, made up for it by passing for 420 yards and 3 touchdowns. He threw for 130 yards in the fourth quarter and completed 9 of his final 10 passes. In two championship games against Alabama, Watson passed for 825 yards.
Renfrow was his favorite receiver with 10 catches and 2 touchdowns giving him four scores in the two title games versus the Crimson Tide. But his second most important play of the game wasn’t a catch but rather a tackle.
On the Tigers’ first possession of the second half, Gallman fumbled and Ryan Anderson scooped it up and appeared end zone bound, but Renfrow rushed it and cut his legs out from under him at the Clemson 16 to save a touchdown. The Crimson Tide never did reach the end zone and had to settle for a field goal. Those four points saved obviously turned out to be crucial.
So it all came together for the Tigers Monday night, just like a Hollywood movie, with Watson the lead character and Renfrow heading up the supporting cast.
Move over Danny Ford and the ’81 Tigers, you’ve got company.
Check out some of the sights and sounds of Clemson’s championship celebration: