TAMPA, Fla. — The Alabama football team’s dynamic run for the national title came up one second short on Monday night against Clemson.
The Tigers scored on a 2-yard touchdown pass with one second remaining to beat the Crimson Tide, 35-31, before a stadium-record crowd of 74,512 at the NFL’s home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The teams got off to a chippy start, combining for three personal foul penalties in the first six minutes before an evenly-divided raucous crowd.
Chippy soon gave way to choppy, with Alabama taking a 14-7 lead to the half after 30 minutes of mostly smash-mouth football.
The Tide seemed to lose its momentum when workhorse tailback Bo Scarbrough left the game with an injury late in the third quarter after rushing for 93 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
Clemson’s Deshaun Watson stepped up and carved a place in the history books with an inspired performance down the stretch, drawing praise from Coach Nick Saban and the Alabama players.
Here’s a look at which Alabama players stock went up, and down, on Monday night:
Tailback Bo Scarbrough
The 6-foot-2, 228-pound Bo Scarbrough spearheaded the Tide’s ground attack early, bulldozing in for a 25-yard touchdown to open the scoring. Scarbrough added a 37-yard dash into the end zone in the second quarter to account for both of Alabama’s first-half TDs.
Scarbrough never got on track in the second half, getting just 17 yards on four carries in the third quarter before leaving the game with an undisclosed injury.
Scarbrough had 180 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries in the 24-7 CFP semifinal win against Washington.
Punter JK Scott
The Alabama junior punter from Denver was getting his kicks a mile high, including a perfect 41-yarder that Levi Wallace downed at the Clemson 1-yard line in the first quarter. Scott put five of his punts inside the Tigers’ 20-yard line
Scott averaged 45.8 yards per punt with five punts traveling 50 or more yards.
Linebacker Ryan Anderson
Ryan Anderson stripped Wayne Gallman of the ball on Clemson’s opening drive of the second half, and recovered it at the Tigers’ 16 that led to Adam Griffith’s 27-yard field goal and a 17-7 lead.
Anderson also recovered a Deshaun Watson fumbled snap at the Clemson 35 in the first half, though the Tide failed to convert that turnover into points.
Anderson finished with seven tackles, two tackles for loss, and a QB sack.
Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick was late and at times loose on Clemson’s passes into the flats in the first half, making only one tackle though the first 30 minutes. Tigers’ tight end Jordan Leggett had seven catches for 95 yards, at times with Fitzpatrick on him.
Receiver Gehrig Dieter
Dieter had a major drop in the third quarter on a third-and-10 Jalen Hurts’ third-down throw at the 6:07 mark. Dieter was going across the middle, and had he caught the ball it would have been a first down on the drive after Clemson scored to cut the lead to 17-14. Dieter was targeted four times but didn’t have a catch.
Defensive Lineman Da’Ron Payne
Payne committed a costly personal foul penalty after Mike Williams’ leaping 26-yard catch with 5:19 left that gave Clemson an additional 15 yards and moved the ball to the Alabama 16. Two plays later, Wayne Gallman scored to give Clemson its first lead of the game with 4:38 left to play