Drive Chart
BAMA
CLEM

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No. 4 Alabama dominates No. 1 Clemson 24-6 in Sugar Bowl

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Nick Saban is back in his comfort zone.

Let others run up the points. He'll take a defensive slugfest every time.

Especially when it gives Alabama another shot at a national title.

In a game where every yard was a struggle, the Crimson Tide defenders took matters into their own hands. They accounted for a pair of touchdowns just 13 seconds apart in the third quarter to turn an offensive slog into a 24-6 rout of defending national champion Clemson in the Sugar Bowl semifinal game Monday night.

''This game was about our identity as a team,'' Saban said. ''I don't think anybody would doubt our relentless attitude out there. We had a warrior-like mentality.''

He was clearly pleased.

Sure, it was quite a contrast to the first two meetings in the Alabama-Clemson trilogy, both high-scoring classics with the national title on the line , not to mention the Rose Bowl semifinal that preceded it. Georgia knocked off Oklahoma 54-48 in a double-overtime thriller that wasn't decided until the Alabama was on its second possession in the Big Easy.

There would be no drama in the nightcap. With Deshaun Watson off to the NFL, top-ranked Clemson (12-2) simply had no answer for the Tide's latest group of defensive standouts, setting up an all-Southeastern Conference showdown for the national title - with Saban matched against his former defensive coordinator, Georgia coach Kirby Smart.

''I'm proud of the job he's done,'' Saban said. ''I'm sure it will be a great football game.''

Leading only 10-6 after a turnover to start the second half handed Clemson a field goal, the fourth-ranked Tide (12-1) quickly snuffed out any thoughts of a repeat title for the Tigers.

It began with 308-pound defensive tackle Da'Ron Payne picking off a wobbly pass after besieged Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant was hit as he threw. Payne rumbled 21 yards on the return, shedding one would-be tackler with a deft open-field move and drawing a 15-yard personal foul penalty when he was finally dragged down with a horse collar tackle.

After Alabama drove to a first down at the Clemson 1, Payne re-entered the game - presumably to add another big body for blocking purposes. Instead, he slipped open near the right pylon on a play fake and hauled in a touchdown pass, even managing to get both feet down before the celebration commenced beyond the sideline.

''I've got gold hands,'' quipped Payne, who was picked as the game's defensive MVP.

A bit shell-shocked by that turn of events, Clemson was thoroughly demoralized after its next offensive play. Bryant's pass deflected off the hands of Deon Cain and was intercepted by linebacker Mack Wilson, who returned it 18 yards for another TD.

They could've called it right then.

''Just incredibly disappointed in our performance,'' Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. ''But congratulations to Alabama. They were the better team today. No doubt about it.''

The Tide, which began the season in Atlanta beating Florida State , will return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium next Monday night to face No. 3 Georgia and give Saban a shot at his sixth title, which would match Bear Bryant.

Saban has four championships in the last eight years at Alabama, along with a BCS title at LSU during the 2003 season.

This is eerily reminiscent of Alabama's run to the 2011 championship, another season when the Tide didn't even win its own division or play for the SEC title. That year, Saban's team lost at home to LSU during the regular season but got a second chance against the top-ranked Tigers with the biggest prize on the line - in the Sugar Bowl, no less.

On that night in the Big Easy, Alabama defense didn't allow LSU to cross midfield until the closing minutes of a suffocating 21-0 victory. This defensive performance was nearly as impressive.

Clemson was held to 188 yards - 260 yards below its season average - and never reached the end zone. Bryant was sacked five times and the Tigers were held to 64 yards on the ground.

Alabama played it tough right to the end, denying Clemson on a fourth-down pass into the end zone with just over a minute remaining.

Clearly, the Tide was still ticked off about the way last season ended, giving up a TD pass with 1 second remaining to hand Clemson the national title.

''This,'' Saban said, ''was a little bit personal for us.''

SILENT RENFROW

Clemson receiver Hunter Renfrow was known as the Tide Killer.

Not this time.

After hauling in four TD passes in the last two national championship games - including, of course, the title winner a year ago - Renfrow was held to just 31 yards on five receptions. All of his catches came in fourth quarter with Alabama comfortably ahead.

''From the opening kickoff, they hit us in the mouth,'' Renfrow said.

THE TAKEAWAY

Alabama: The Tide's defense against Georgia's offense will be an especially intriguing matchup given the way the semifinal games played out. One thing to keep an eye on: Anfernee Jennings was helped off with a sprained knee late in the game after recording a sack and three tackles for losses, another potential blow to the Tide's already beleaguered linebacker corps.

Clemson: The Tigers looked at this game as a chance to show they had surpassed Alabama as college football's most dominant program. Sorry, the Tide is still king.

''We'll be back,'' Swinney vowed.

UP NEXT

Alabama: A national championship game to end the season for the third year in a row and sixth time in the last nine seasons.

Clemson: Opens the 2018 season Sept. 1 by hosting FCS school Furman.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry

---

More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

Copyright 2018 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Scoring Summary
4th Quarter
No scoring this quarter
3rd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 5:27
12-A.Pappanastos extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
24
6
Touchdown 5:35
2-K.Bryant incomplete. Intended for 8-D.Cain INTERCEPTED by 30-M.Wilson at CLE 18. 30-M.Wilson runs 18 yards for a touchdown.
1
plays
18
yds
0:00
pos
23
6
Point After TD 5:40
12-A.Pappanastos extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
17
6
Touchdown 5:40
2-J.Hurts complete to 94-D.Payne. 94-D.Payne runs 1 yard for a touchdown.
7
plays
27
yds
03:38
pos
16
6
Field Goal 12:52
41-A.Spence 42 yards Field Goal is Good.
3
plays
-5
yds
01:56
pos
10
6
2nd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Field Goal 10:05
41-A.Spence 44 yards Field Goal is Good.
12
plays
54
yds
00:00
pos
10
3
1st Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 0:12
12-A.Pappanastos extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
10
0
Touchdown 0:12
2-J.Hurts complete to 3-C.Ridley. 3-C.Ridley runs 12 yards for a touchdown.
8
plays
46
yds
03:34
pos
9
0
Field Goal 5:27
12-A.Pappanastos 24 yards Field Goal is Good.
11
plays
56
yds
05:20
pos
3
0
Team Stats
1st Downs 16 14
Rushing 9 6
Passing 5 8
Penalty 2 0
3rd Down Conv 8-17 8-19
4th Down Conv 1-1 1-2
Total Net Yards 253 154
Total Plays 66 70
Avg Gain 3.8 2.2
Net Yards Rushing 141 64
Rush Attempts 42 33
Avg Rush Yards 3.4 1.9
Net Yards Passing 112 90
Comp. - Att. 16-24 18-37
Yards Per Pass 4.7 2.4
Sacked - Yards Lost 2-8 5-34
Penalties - Yards 2-10 4-29
Touchdowns 3 0
Rushing TDs 0 0
Passing TDs 2 0
Other 1 0
Turnovers 1 2
Fumbles - Lost 1-1 0-0
Int. Thrown 0 2
Punts - Avg 6-35.5 7-39.3
Return Yards 117 65
Punts - Returns 3-30 0-0
Kickoffs - Returns 3-48 4-65
Int. - Returns 2-39 0-0
Kicking 4/5 2/2
Extra Points 3/3 0/0
Field Goals 1/2 2/2
Safeties 0 0
1234T
4 Alabama 12-1 10014024
1 Clemson 12-2 03306
112 PASS YDS 90
141 RUSH YDS 64
253 TOTAL YDS 154
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
J. Hurts 2 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
66.7% 120 2 0 136.2
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
61.1% 2060 17 1 153.1
J. Hurts 16/24 120 2 0
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
D. Harris 34 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
19 77 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
129 983 11
D. Harris 19 77 0 11
J. Hurts 2 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
11 40 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
148 808 8
J. Hurts 11 40 0 19
B. Scarbrough 9 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
12 24 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
120 573 8
B. Scarbrough 12 24 0 6
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
C. Ridley 3 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
4 39 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
59 935 4
C. Ridley 4 39 1 13
H. Ruggs 11 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 25 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
9 200 5
H. Ruggs 2 25 0 15
N. Harris 22 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 22 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
6 45 0
N. Harris 1 22 0 22
B. Scarbrough 9 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 16 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
16 108 0
B. Scarbrough 2 16 0 15
I. Smith Jr. 82 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 6 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
14 128 3
I. Smith Jr. 1 6 0 6
D. Harris 34 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 4 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
10 70 0
D. Harris 2 4 0 9
D. Smith 6 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 4 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
7 119 2
D. Smith 1 4 0 4
J. Jacobs 8 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 3 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
14 168 2
J. Jacobs 2 3 0 3
D. Payne 94 DL
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 1 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 1 1
D. Payne 1 1 1 1
C. Sims 17 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
13 194 1
C. Sims 0 0 0 0
R. Foster 1 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
11 146 1
R. Foster 0 0 0 0
Defense T-A SACK INT
L. Wallace 39 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
6-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-0 3 0.0
L. Wallace 6-0 0.0 0
M. Wilson 30 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
6-0 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-0 4 0.0
M. Wilson 6-0 0.0 1
R. Evans 32 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-4 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-4 0 1.0
R. Evans 5-4 1.0 0
A. Jennings 33 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-0 0 1.0
A. Jennings 5-0 1.0 0
D. Thompson 14 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-0 1 0.0
D. Thompson 4-0 0.0 0
R. Davis 99 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-1 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-1 0 1.0
R. Davis 4-1 1.0 0
D. Hand 9 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-2 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-2 0 1.0
D. Hand 3-2 1.0 0
M. Fitzpatrick 29 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 1 0.0
M. Fitzpatrick 3-0 0.0 0
A. Averett 28 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 1 0.0
A. Averett 2-0 0.0 0
I. Buggs 49 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 1.0
I. Buggs 2-1 1.0 0
D. Payne 94 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 1 0.0
D. Payne 2-0 0.0 1
R. Harrison 15 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 3 0.0
R. Harrison 1-0 0.0 0
Q. Williams 92 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
Q. Williams 1-0 0.0 0
T. Brown 2 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
T. Brown 1-0 0.0 0
J. Frazier 69 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
J. Frazier 1-0 0.0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
A. Pappanastos 12 K
IN-GAME FG XP
1/2 3/3
SEASON FG XP
16/21 54/54
A. Pappanastos 1/2 24 3/3 6
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
J. Scott 10 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
6 35.5 3
SEASON NO AVG IN20
48 42.4 3
J. Scott 6 35.5 3 41
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
H. Ruggs 11 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
3 16.0 22 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
13 18.4 22 0
H. Ruggs 3 16.0 22 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
T. Diggs 7 DB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
3 10.0 14 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
13 8.9 14 0
T. Diggs 3 10.0 14 0
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
K. Bryant 2 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
50% 124 0 2 67.8
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
65.8% 2802 13 8 131.7
K. Bryant 18/36 124 0 2
T. Feaster 28 RB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
0% 0 0 0 0.0
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
0% 0 0 0 0.0
T. Feaster 0/1 0 0 0
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
T. Etienne 9 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
4 22 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
107 766 13
T. Etienne 4 22 0 8
K. Bryant 2 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
19 19 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
192 665 11
K. Bryant 19 19 0 20
A. Choice 26 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
5 14 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
67 326 6
A. Choice 5 14 0 9
T. Feaster 28 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
4 10 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
107 669 7
T. Feaster 4 10 0 6
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
D. Cain 8 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
6 75 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
58 734 6
D. Cain 6 75 0 19
H. Renfrow 13 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
5 31 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
60 602 3
H. Renfrow 5 31 0 9
A. Rodgers 3 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 16 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
19 123 0
A. Rodgers 1 16 0 16
M. Richard 80 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 4 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
18 210 1
M. Richard 1 4 0 4
R. McCloud 21 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
3 1 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
49 503 1
R. McCloud 3 1 0 3
D. Overton 14 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
14 178 0
D. Overton 0 0 0 0
D. Greenlee 87 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
4 61 0
D. Greenlee 0 0 0 0
T. Higgins 5 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
17 345 2
T. Higgins 0 0 0 0
T. Thompson 1 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
11 94 0
T. Thompson 0 0 0 0
T. Feaster 28 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 -3 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
12 112 1
T. Feaster 2 -3 0 0
Defense T-A SACK INT
K. Joseph 34 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
8-3 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
8-3 1 0.0
K. Joseph 8-3 0.0 0
V. Smith 23 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
7-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
7-1 1 0.0
V. Smith 7-1 0.0 0
JD. Davis 33 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
7-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
7-0 0 0.0
JD. Davis 7-0 0.0 0
C. Wilkins 42 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
6-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-1 0 0.0
C. Wilkins 6-1 0.0 0
K. Wallace 12 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-0 1 0.0
K. Wallace 5-0 0.0 0
J. Skalski 47 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-0 0 0.0
J. Skalski 4-0 0.0 0
R. Carter 31 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 3 0.0
R. Carter 3-0 0.0 0
T. Mullen 1 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 3 0.0
T. Mullen 3-0 0.0 0
A. Bryant 7 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 1 1.0
A. Bryant 3-0 1.0 0
C. Ferrell 99 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 1.0
C. Ferrell 3-1 1.0 0
D. O'Daniel 6 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 2 0.0
D. O'Daniel 2-0 0.0 0
T. Muse 19 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
T. Muse 2-0 0.0 0
D. Lawrence 90 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
D. Lawrence 1-0 0.0 0
Ch. Smith 43 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
Ch. Smith 0-1 0.0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
Al. Spence 41 K
IN-GAME FG XP
2/2 0/0
SEASON FG XP
9/14 41/43
Al. Spence 2/2 44 0/0 6
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
W. Spiers 48 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
7 39.3 0
SEASON NO AVG IN20
67 40.6 0
W. Spiers 7 39.3 0 43
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
T. Etienne 9 RB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
4 16.3 19 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
19 20.5 19 0
T. Etienne 4 16.3 19 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
13:43 BAMA 46 1:29 3 8 Punt
10:47 BAMA 47 5:20 11 47 FG
3:46 CLEM 46 3:34 8 46 TD
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
9:54 BAMA 15 3:54 8 41 Punt
4:06 BAMA 41 3:44 12 34 FG Miss
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
14:53 BAMA 22 0:00 1 -2 Fumble
12:39 BAMA 27 1:10 3 3 Punt
9:18 CLEM 27 3:38 7 27 TD
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
1:45 BAMA 47 1:23 6 15 Punt
12:54 BAMA 31 1:46 3 3 Punt
9:55 BAMA 41 2:40 6 22 Punt
1:43 BAMA 5 1:28 3 12
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
14:56 CLEM 16 1:06 3 3 Punt
12:04 CLEM 16 1:10 3 3 Punt
5:18 CLEM 24 1:20 3 -6 Punt
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
0:03 CLEM 19 0:00 12 54 FG
5:52 CLEM 10 1:36 5 10 Punt
0:17 CLEM 20 0:00 1 -1 Halftime
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
14:48 BAMA 20 1:56 3 -5 FG
11:17 CLEM 32 1:48 6 33 INT
5:35 CLEM 13 0:00 1 87 INT
5:27 CLEM 25 3:30 6 6 Punt
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
14:53 CLEM 5 1:48 7 21 Punt
10:59 CLEM 25 0:56 3 -7 Punt
7:06 CLEM 20 5:18 18 75 Downs