Renfrow’s last-second TD helps Tigers turn the Tide

renfrowIn a crowning moment for Clemson football, former Socastee High player Hunter Renfrow etched his name in the school’s history books on Monday night.

With 1 second remaining in the National Championship Game against Alabama, Renfrow made the game-winning and national title-clinching touchdown catch – his 10th reception and second TD of the night – to give the Tigers a 35-31 victory over the Crimson Tide  in Tampa.

Renfrow’s 2-yard TD catch completed a 14-point comeback by the Tigers, who trailed 14-0 right out of the gate and struggled offensively until midway through the second half. Renfrow’s 24-yard TD catch in the third period allowed Clemson to cut the deficit to 17-14, sparking a 21-point fourth quarter rally to avenge last year’s loss to Alabama.

Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts scored a 30-yard TD run with 2:07 remaining that appeared to give the Tide the momentum with a 31-28 lead. But Clemson marched down field, eschewing a potential overtime-forcing field goal attempt to go for the win. Renfrow’s clutch grab put the Tigers on top, and they recovered the ensuing onside kick to clinch their first national title since 1981.

Despite his stellar night receiving (10 catches, 92 yards, two TDs), Renfrow’s biggest play might have come on defense. After Clemson QB Deshaun Watson fumbled and Alabama scooped and had a good chance to score, Renfrow made a TD-saving tackle and the Tide was held to a field goal and a 17-7 lead.

Watson completed 36 of 56 passes for 420 yards to lead the Tigers (14-1) past the Tide (14-1). Watson was responsible for four touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter as Clemson rallied from an early 14-0 deficit. It was Clemson’s first win ever in a bowl when trailing by 14 or more points. Watson, named Most Valuable Player, threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns while adding a score on the ground. Renfrow caught two of the touchdowns, giving him a second straight National Championship game with multiple receiving scores. The former walk-on finished with a game-high 10 catches for 92 yards. Jordan Leggett and Mike Williams added 95 and 94 receiving yards, respectively.

Clemson’s brilliant fourth quarter included 21 points, while the Tigers amassed 511 yards — the second straight year Watson and the Tigers posted at least 500 against the mighty Crimson Tide defense.

Photo courtesy of Clemson Athletics

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