Jalen Hurts spent a lot of the season watching from the sideline, cheering on the man who took his job and hoping for another likelihood to steer the Alabama Crimson Tide.
He did not pout. He did not gripe. He did not switch.
On Saturday, with Alabama’s season hanging within the stability, Hurts acquired the decision.
The junior quarterback threw for one landing and ran for an additional with just a little greater than a minute left on the clock, rallying top-ranked Alabama to a 35-28 victory over No. four Georgia within the Southeastern Convention championship sport.
It was a shocking twist on the situation that performed out lower than 11 months earlier on the exact same subject.
“I’ve in all probability by no means been extra pleased with a participant than Jalen,” an emotional coach Nick Saban mentioned moments after the triumph.
If that they had pitched this script to Hollywood, it might’ve been laughed out of the room for being too implausible.
In final season’s nationwide title sport at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, between these identical two groups, Tua Tagovailoa changed an ineffective Hurts firstly of the second half with Alabama trailing Georgia 13-0.
The substitute threw three landing passes, together with a 41-yarder in time beyond regulation that gave the Tide a shocking 26-23 victory.
Tagovailoa received the beginning job outright heading into this season and carried out brilliantly earlier than Saturday, throwing 36 landing passes with solely two interceptions.
The SEC title sport took a special path. Georgia put fairly a beating on Tagovailoa, who was picked off twice, spent a lot of his spare time within the medical tent and was largely ineffective because the Bulldogs constructed a pair of two-touchdown leads.
Lastly, with simply over 11 minutes remaining, Tagovailoa went down for good after considered one of his personal linemen stepped on his proper foot as he tried to throw.
Enter Hurts, who posted a 26-2 file because the starter earlier than Tagovailoa claimed the job.
He calmly guided the Crimson Tide to a game-tying landing with a 10-yard go to Jerry Jeudy, capping a 16-play, 80-yard drive that consumed greater than 7 minutes.
After the Bulldogs have been stuffed on a pretend punt close to midfield , Hurts took issues into his personal palms for the successful rating. Recognizing a gap up the center, he took off on a 15-yard TD run with 1:04 remaining.
“It is unprecedented to have a man that received as many video games as he received … begin as a freshman, solely lose a few video games the entire time that he was the starter, after which abruptly he is not the quarterback,” Saban mentioned.
“How do you handle that? How do you deal with that? You have to have an incredible quantity of sophistication and character to place workforce first, understanding your scenario shouldn’t be what it was.”
Hurts accomplished 7 of 9 passes for 82 yards, to go together with 5 carries for 28 yards in lower than 1 / 4 of motion.
“It sort of feels like I am breaking my silence,” Hurts mentioned.
He spoke loud and clear towards the Bulldogs. And when he trotted off the sector after the successful TD, Tagovailoa was one of many first teammates to greet him.
Afterward, they stood side-by-side on the rostrum in the midst of the sector whereas Alabama acquired its SEC championship trophy.
“When he went into the sport,” linebacker Mack Wilson mentioned, “I used to be telling Dylan Moses, ‘Man, it is like deja vu.’ I used to be like, ‘Watch him go in and produce us again and win the sport.’ I knew he was going to try this and I am fairly positive all people else did, too.”
The Crimson Tide is headed again to the Faculty Soccer Playoff, searching for its second straight nationwide title and the sixth of the final decade below Saban.
“I do know at Alabama, there’s all the time a possibility to win,” Hurts mentioned. “I am so blissful, so blissful for everyone.”
Georgia could make a fairly good case for the playoff, too, however the Bulldogs will probably get unnoticed. Massive 12 champion Oklahoma (12-1) avenged its solely loss by beating Texas, and Ohio State (12-1) knocked off Northwestern within the Massive Ten title sport.
This was one other galling loss for Saban’s former assistant, Kirby Good. He is rapidly constructed Georgia right into a nationwide powerhouse, however he retains developing brief towards his ex-boss.
For the second time in lower than a yr, the Bulldogs squandered a double-digit result in the Crimson Tide. Whereas this one did not finish with the suddenness of that nationwide title sport, it damage simply as dangerous. The Bulldogs had one other likelihood to knock off the workforce that had been No. 1 within the polls all season, a workforce that has constructed maybe the best dynasty in faculty soccer historical past.
“With a workforce like that, you’ve got acquired to have the ability to put them manner as a result of they maintain hanging on,” Georgia tight finish Isaac Nauta mentioned. “They have been doing it for lots of years.”
The Related Press contributed to this report