A freshman quarterback led his team to a national championship.
It was Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and not Georgia’s Jake Fromm.
Alabama came back from a 13-point second half deficit after switching to the young quarterback in a dramatic 26-23 overtime victory over Georgia in the college football title game Monday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
> Photos: Georgia-Alabama battle in Atlanta
Rodrigo Blankenship kicked a 51-yard field goal on Georgia’s first possession of overtime after Fromm was sacked on third down to break a 20-20 tie.
Georgia’s Devin Bellamy sacked Tagovailoa on Alabama’s first play on its first overtime possession.
It wasn’t over.
Tagovailoa threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith on the very next play to give Alabama its fifth national championship in nine years.
Alabama’s Andy Pappanastos missed a 36-yard field goal as time expired that sent the game into overtime.
Georgia was denied its first national title since 1980.
Georgia dominated the first half and took a 13-0 lead into the intermission, all on second-quarter points. The Bulldogs got field goals from Blankenship of 41 and 27 yards before Mecole Hardman ran in from the one yard line with seven seconds left in the second quarter out of the Wild Dawg formation.
Georgia held advantages of 223-94 in total yards and 19:23-10:37 in time of possession.
Alabama had a chance to take an early lead but missed a 42-yard field goal attempt after an interception on Georgia’s first possession.
Alabama replaced starting quarterback Jalen Hurts, who is 25-2 career as a starter, with Tagovailoa to start the second half. He led the Crimson Tide to 10 third-quarter and 10 fourth-quarter points to force overtime.
Georgia took a 20-7 lead in the third quarter when Fromm hit Hardman with an 80-yard touchdown pass. Alabama tied the game with a touchdown with 3:49 remaining. After Georgia could not score on its ensuing possession, Alabama missed the potential game-winning field goal.
However, it was the overtime touchdown that sent a large contingent of Georgia fans home disappointed.
Return for complete coverage on myAJC.com and DawgNation.com