Jalen Hurts, replacing an injured Tua Tagovailoa in the fourth quarter, rallied No. 1 Alabama for two fourth-quarter touchdowns for a thrilling 35-28 victory over No. 4 Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship game in Atlanta today.
Hurts, who was 26-2 as a starter before being replaced during last season’s national championship game, also against Georgia, scored on a 15-yard quarterback draw with 1:04 left to play to break a 28-all tie.
The Bulldogs drove to the Crimson Tide’s 39 with three seconds left, but Jake Fromm’s pass was batted down in the end zone, clinching the SEC title and a berth in the College Football Playoffs for the defending national champion Tide.
“So proud of this guy,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban, who choked up during a postgame TV interview while pointing to Hurts.
“All year waiting on my opportunity,” Hurts said during an on-field TV interview. “My opportunity came today … We found a way to get it done today.”
“For him to get his opportunity, I think everyone is happier,” Tagovailoa said during a postgame ceremony. “Kudos to Jalen, kudos to the team as well.”
Hurts completed seven of nine passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed five times for 28 yards and the go-ahead touchdown.
Tagovailoa, under heavy pressure, completed 10 of 25 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted twice while deep in Georgia territory.
Tagovailoa left in the fourth quarter when an offensive lineman stepped on his ankle while the Saint Louis product was delivering a pass.
Hurts entered with Alabama trailing 28-21. He led a 16-play, 80-yard drive, culminating with a 10-yard scoring pass on third-and-10 from the 10 with 5:19 left.
Georgia advanced to the 50 and, on fourth-and-11, Justin Fields was stopped on a fake punt at the 48, giving Alabama the ball on its 48 with 2:59 left. Hurts then drove the Tide for the winning score.