Five deliveries by Najee Harris and one crushing offense sparked the Crimson Tide to their 28th conference title
ATLANTA – Alabama football won its 28th SEC title Saturday night at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, defeating the Florida Gators 52-46 in the SEC Championship game.
With Crimson Tide dominating in the first half, the Gators made a comeback attempt in the second, scoring 14 unanswered points and reducing Alabama’s lead to four before the fourth quarter.
However, a 17-point fourth quarter for Alabama and several important saves in the defense once again led to Crimson Tide celebrating in confetti.
“Really proud of our team for the way they played in the game,” said Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban. “I think I’m very proud of our team for the way they have competed throughout the year. It’s been a year of a lot of disruption – a lot of abnormal things happened – and the opposition our team has shown throughout the season to win 11 games is quite phenomenal.
“I think it shows the solidarity of the team – everyone bought in and tried to do the things they needed to contribute to the team. “
Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones finished his final game before the Heisman Trophy poll, with 33 of 43 for 418 yards, five touchdowns and one touchdown.
Senior receiver DeVonta Smith also did not have a bad night, winning 15 receptions for 184 yards and two touchdowns.
Although Alabama was deadly in the air, it was just as effective on the ground. Senior runner Najee Harris had 178 yards on 31 carries and two touchdowns. He was also as tough for the Gators defense as a receiver, getting five catches for 67 yards and three more touchdowns.
Harris ended the evening with a career total of 3,639, making him the most lucrative yards in Crimson Tide history. The stormy touch brought his career to 44, also a program record.
“It’s an honor to be in the position, but I can not thank the line enough to make it happen,” Harris said. “For me, I know my name will be there, but just for the rope to come pick those holes, I really feel like they should be there. The leading runner of all time there too. “
Harris scored his first touchdown on Purple Tide’s first drive and ran eight yards over the line for six points. Initially, Alabama scored a touchdown on five of its six stations, and Jones’ interception was the only one that did not return a touchdown, at least not directly.
With 6:21 left in the first quarter, Jones senior Miller Forristall threw down the middle, which was beaten by Gators defender Trey Dean. When Dean returned, second-year receiver John Metchie III flew up from behind and swung the ball with his shot, while Smith bounced.
The Gators brought a roar of celebration by putting together a 75-yard drive and four touchdowns to open the second half. As Alabama failed to score in the first two laps of the third quarter, Florida narrowed the gap to 35-31.
Alabama managed to score 17 points on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, but Florida was hot on the heels with 14 points.
In Alabama’s penultimate offense of the game, Alabama midfielder Landon Dickerson, in the red senior jersey, fell to his knee and was forced off the field.
When he was loaded into the car, the entire Crimson Tide team cleared the sideline and gathered around him in the car to say goodbye to the game. Dickerson, however, returned to the field for the second half, where he joined the rest of the team on crutches and with his left knee wrapped.
Saban later revealed that Dickerson will undergo an MRI scan on Sunday to determine the extent of the damage, but he believes it could be serious.
At the end of the fourth quarter, Alabama was forced to finish after a three-man run, leaving the Gators 16 seconds behind the clock. With Florida having no time, playmaker Crimson Tide, Christian Harris, drove Gators quarterback Kyle Trask into his locale and finished the game excited.