With Clemson trailing Alabama 14-7 at halftime of the national championship Monday night, Dabo Swinney told his players that they would win the game. He didn’t know how, but he knew they would do it – because they loved each other.
Swinney was right. Clemson scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to shock Alabama 35-31 and deny the Tide their fifth championship in eight years.
“Coach Swinney never lost faith in us,” Clemson running back Wayne Gallman said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “He knew going into it that we were going to win. He was just depending on all of us to do our job right.”
Clemson trailed by 10 in the fourth quarter but had two long touchdown drives – a six-play 88-yarder and a nine-play, 68-yarder – to win the game. Hunter Renfrow’s 2-yard touchdown reception with one second to go gave Clemson its first national championship since 1981.
“Those last five minutes, that was just awesome preparation,” said Gallman, who rushed 18 times for 46 yards and a touchdown. “We were preparing for that situation in practice. We knew it was really tight, and it was all 11 of us just coming together and doing our jobs.
Deshaun Watson had another brilliant game against Alabama, finishing 36-of-56 for 420 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 43 yards and a score.
Gallman said Clemson’s offensive line played great.
“I’m just glad it worked out to perfection,” Gallman said. “I love my offensive line and they do the best they can. Give credit to the Alabama defense. That was the best defense we probably played this year, so good job by the front.”
Clemson started last season 14-0 before losing to Alabama 45-40 in the national championship. This year, the Tigers flipped the script on the Tide, who were seeking a 15-0 season and their 27th straight win.
It wasn’t meant to be for Bama.
“We’re all happy, man,” Gallman said. “Best moment of my life. I can’t put it into words how much it means.”