National Championship Game: Alabama routs Ohio State to win it all again

Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith scores a touchdown past Ohio State safety Josh Proctor during the first half of an NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith scores a touchdown past Ohio State safety Josh Proctor during the first half of an NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Credit: Chris O'Meara

Credit: Chris O'Meara

Alabama never looked back after a dominant first half of the College Football Playoff national championship game.

The top-ranked Crimson Tide prevailed 52-24 over Ohio State to win its sixth national title in the last 12 years Monday night at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Fla. It was career title No. 7 for Alabama coach Nick Saban, who surpassed Alabama legend Paul “Bear” Bryant’s six.

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Leading 35-17, Alabama drove 75 yards to the Ohio State 2-yard line to start the third quarter, but the Crimson Tide had to settle for a Will Reichard field goal after Justin Hilliard stopped Najee Harris on a third-and-goal play.

Ohio State (7-1) answered quickly with a three-play, 75-yard scoring drive. Justin Fields started it with a 17-yard pass to Garrett Wilson, kept the ball for 33 yards then hit Fields from 20 yards out for a touchdown.

That was as close as the Buckeyes would get.

Mac Jones hit Slade Bolden for a 5-yard touchdown late in the third quarter and Harris ran it in from a yard out early in the fourth quarter to extend the Tide lead to 52-24.

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Justin Fields completed 17 of 33 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown for Ohio State. He also led the Buckeyes with 67 yards rushing.

Jones finished 36 of 45 for 454 yards and five touchdowns. Wide receiver DeVonta Smith, the Heisman Trophy winner, caught 12 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns -- all in the first half. He left the game early in the second half with a hand injury.

Harris finished with three touchdowns for the Crimson Tide (13-0).

FIRST HALF RECAP

The first half was the scorefest it was expected to be.

Alabama emerged with a 35-17 lead as the Crimson Tide’s relentless offense went up and down the field.

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After Ohio State went three-and-out to start the game, Alabama took a punt and drove 78 yards for a touchdown

The Buckeyes had the Crimson Tide stopped a few inches from the goal line after third down, but Alabama went for it on fourth, a decision that paid off when Harris crashed over the goal line for a touchdown.

Ohio State struck back quickly as Master Teague III bounced outside for an 8-yard touchdown run to cap a 75-yard scoring drive. That was set up by Jeremy Ruckert’s one-handed catch of a 36-yard pass from Justin Fields.

Jake Seibert, filling in for Blake Haubeil after Ohio State’s regular kicker tested positive for COVID-19, hit the PAT kick to tie the game at 7 with 4:55 left in the first quarter.

Alabama went back on top on the first play of the second quarter as Jones hit Smith with a pass out of the backfield and he outran the pursuit to the end zone.

Ohio State had to punt on its ensuing possession, but got the ball inside the Alabama 20 when Baron Browning forced and recovered a Mac Jones fumble.

That set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Teague, but the game wasn’t tied long.

Less than three minutes later, Alabama was in the end zone when Jones found Harris open in the flat and the talented senior running back did the rest, racing 26 yards for a touchdown.

The Buckeyes were back inside the Alabama 20 within three plays on the next drive thanks to a 28-yard scramble by Fields and a 29-yard run by Teague, but the drive stalled at the 6.

Ohio State settled for Seibert’s 23-yard field goal and a 21-17 deficit with 5:21 left.

Alabama needed just over two minutes to extend the lead into double figures for the first time as Jones found Smith from five yards out with 3:19 to go.

After an Ohio State punt, Smith got behind the secondary for a 42-yard score and a 35-17 lead.

To make matters worse for the Buckeyes, All-American offensive lineman Wyatt Davis was injured late in the second quarter and had to be helped off the field by two staffers.

Ohio State had already lost running back Trey Sermon to an injury on the first play from scrimmage.

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