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Clemson defeat Alabama for National Championship

football

Photo by: David Rosenblum

Clemson outlasted Alabama for the National Championship in Tampa, Florida. Clemson survived the first half after scoring only one touchdown, and returned to take the game into the final second to determine the championship.

After Wayne Gallman ran 1-yard for a Clemson touchdown that gave them the lead within the fourth quarter, Alabama answered with one of their own. True freshman Jalen Hurts rushed 30-yards for a touchdown that momentarily gave them the advantage.

But the aggression and will of the Clemson offense would not be denied. Clemson took advantage of Alabama’s mistake. On the winning play Deshaun Watson connected with Hunter Renfrow in the endzone for a 2-yard pass.

Swinney went for an onside kick and Clemson recovered for –1 yards at their own 45.

Clemson won by a four-point margin with a score of 35-31, beating Alabama for the first time since 1905 and gaining their first national championship since 1981.

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Jimmie Johnson avoids trouble at Charlotte

Photo by: Jared C. Tilton

In a race in which the Chase drivers were inflicted by numerous setbacks throughout the Bank of America 500, Jimmie Johnson avoided disaster to earn his third win of the 2016 season at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Johnson showed that his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet remain a contender in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, leading 155 laps toward the 78th victory of his career and the eight at this racetrack.

“We’re a brotherhood on this No. 48 team, and just so thankful for the friendship and the hard work. Same thing for everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. We’re really going to enjoy this.”

The hard work has landed them a Chase berth inside the Round of 8 for the first time since the playoff system was put in place in 2014.

“That is massive,” Johnson said, “I’m so happy about that. So happy to be in Victory Lane with (crew chief, Chad Knaus) this guy.”

Johnson’s win gives him a chance to continue to compete for a record-tying seventh career championship, one that did not seem within reach throughout the summer.

“We can’t sit back and celebrate too much on this,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to buckle down and get to work and keep advancing our race cars. But this does buy us a couple weeks of freedom.”

Johnson and his team may have found their breakthrough, but many teams weren’t so lucky. Five of the Chase contenders finished 30th or worse in the opening race of the second round in the Chase.

Joey Logano finished 36th after heavy damage from wall contact sent him to the garage for repairs, while Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin encountered engine trouble halted their race for good finishes.

Chase Elliott and Austin Dillon were caught up in a 12-car pile-up after the No. 78 of Martin Truex Jr tapped the No. 3 Chevrolet, who gained track position after taking two tires, on the restart.

Elliott tried to make it through, but unavoidable contact with Kyle Busch resulted in him being turned into the outside wall.

Dillon and Elliott finished 32nd and 33rd, respectively.

Catch Elliott as he searches for redemption, and his first Sprint Cup victory, on October 16th at Kansas Speedway at 2:15 PM/ET on NBC.

Martin Truex Jr. tames the Monster Mile

Photo by: Sean Gardner

Martin Truex Jr. continued his dominance with his victory in the Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover International Speedway. Truex led the most laps of six drivers Sunday with 187 laps, scoring his third win within the last five races.

“I guess right now it’s just our time,” Truex said. “Throughout the summer, we led so many laps and had so many great race cars and so many great weekends that things would happen [and we’d lose].”

“Sometimes it was just rotten luck, sometimes it was mistakes or just circumstances that didn’t play out. But I think that the biggest thing is we just kept our heads in the game. We stayed focused on the things that truly matter, and when all that bad luck went away, here we are. I mean, it’s just been amazing.”

But right now that rotten luck has vanished for the time being, shifting to Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson. The Lowe’s Chevrolet team continues to stumble on mistakes that could have been prevented.

The No. 48 was hit with a penalty after a crewman went over the pit wall too early during a stop, forcing Johnson to return to pit road under green. Johnson battled back for a seventh place finish, but did not get the chance to contend for the win after leading 90 laps.

Johnson held a significant cushion to advance into the Round of 12. Those not as fortunate were Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Larson, and Chris Buescher.

Both Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson failed to advance after being hit with their own misfortunes. McMurray suffered through a blown engine on Lap 193 after complaining of a vibration. Larson, who held the last advancing spot coming into Dover, finished 25th after hitting the wall.

Austin Dillon took advantage of the day, finishing eighth and advancing into the next round of the Chase. The driver remained focused during the race without worrying about where he stood in the Chase.

“I knew what we had to do.” He said.

The Round of 12 drivers head into Charlotte with a clean slate as the points reset to 3,000 each for the championship contenders. While there may be clear favorites, everyone is fair game and looking to lock themselves in early.

Tennessee victorious with Hail Mary

ATHENS, GA – 2016.10.01 Football Tennessee vs. GeorigaPhoto by: Craig Bisacre

Call ‘em the comeback kids.

Tennessee fought throughout an entire 60 minutes at Sanford Stadium and came out on top with a 34-31 victory against the No. 25 ranked Georgia Bulldogs.

In an ending that resembled Georgia was set for victory, with ten seconds remaining on the play clock after Georgia’s Riley Ridley went 47-yards for a touchdown, Tennessee pulled an upset with a Hail Mary.

Joshua Dobbs threw for a 43-yard touchdown after Evan Berry went 20-yards on the return. The Tennessee Volunteers charged into the second half of the game to take control of their own fate, scoring over half of their points just within the fourth quarter.

Alvin Kamara and Josh Malone set up the play that would set the tone for the second half of the game. Kamara almost broke free, but settled for a 13-yard gain. Malone’s first down eventually led to Jalen Hurd’s 19-yard touchdown and the first, and only, of the third quarter.

It was the fumble by Georgia quarterback’s Jacob Eason that added to Tennessee’s momentum that led to their victory. Corey Vereen recovered Eason’s fumble in the end zone.

The touchdown earned Tennessee a 28-24 lead with 2:56 remaining on the clock.

Georgia answered with an unbelievable 47-yard touchdown of their own, however a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty put the game back in their opponent’s hands.

Berry returned 20-yards before the team called for a timeout with only four seconds remaining.

In the last play Dobbs threw 43-yards toward Jauan Jennings, who was surrounded by multiple Georgia players. Jennings’ remarkable catch resulted in a 34-31 Tennessee victory. It is the fourth time this season The Volunteers have came from behind and won.

Jalen Hurts leads No. 1 Alabama to 52-6 victory over USC

Photo by: Tony Gutierrez

The Alabama Crimson Tide conquered USC with a smashing score of 52-6, however it did not come easy in the early half of the game. The Tide’s offense struggled to move the ball and capitalize on USC’s inability to reach the end zone.
Alabama’s starter, Blake Barnett, did not quite have the start that everyone anticipated, throwing an incomplete pass and getting sacked before he was replaced by freshman Jalen Hurts.

Hurts’ first drive wasn’t a highlight moment either. The quarterback fumbled and USC recovered, but Hurts settled in and proved why he is deserving of the starting position. Hurts rushed for two touchdowns of his own as well as throwing incredible passes to ArDarius Stewart, one of which he was wide open in the end zone to receive.

That play was the start to a dominating performance by the No. 1 team in the country.

In the second quarter under a USC 2nd & 8, Marlon Humphrey returned an 18-yard interception for an Alabama touchdown.

After rushing 6-yards for another touchdown, with a significant cushion, Nick Saban replaced Hurts to give Barnett more playing time. Barnett seemed much more confident within the quarterback position the second time. He completed a 40-yard pass to O.J. Howard that lead to a touchdown scored by Bo Scarbrough.

Later, Barnett also threw 45-yards for a final score of 52-6.

Saban, who has never started a freshman quarterback, has two incredible players capable of caring the team to another title. Whether it is Hurts or Barnett is yet to be determined, but Alabama started right where they left off and do not seem to be slowing down.

Tennessee defeat Appalachian State in OT

Photo by: Wade Payne

College football is back and in thrilling fashion as Tennessee and Appalachian State went into overtime in their first game of the season Thursday night.

Tennessee’s Jalen Hurd made the move that would win them the ballgame, recovering a fumble by the team’s quarterback for a touchdown that would give them their first, and only, lead of the night.

Taylor Lamb tried for an end zone pass, however Micah Abernathy broke up the pass and ended the night.

The win came after several mistakes made by Appalachian State, who went scoreless in the second half of the game, were capitalized on. The Tennessee Volunteers took advantage of poor clock management and missed opportunities, which included a missed field goal and a touchdown extra point.

Despite trailing for the entire game, Tennessee’s big break came when Josh Malone ran in a 67-yard touchdown pass in the 4th-quarter to tie up the game. That gave them everything they needed to force overtime at Neyland Stadium.

Tennessee made first downs that allowed them to move down field and score. Dobbs stretched for the goal line before a hit in the chest caused the ball to escape from Dobbs hands. Hurd recovered for the touchdown.

Appalachian State failed to tie the game that resulted in Tennessee’s 20-13 victory.

 

Kyle Larson earns first career Sprint Cup victory

Photo by: Jeff Zelevansky

Kyle Larson scored his first Sprint Cup Series victory at Michigan International Speedway during Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400, the first person since Dale Jarrett to score their first Cup victory at the racetrack.

Larson, who led 41 laps, snapped a 99-race winless streak for Chip Ganassi Racing. The driver was the third first-time winner this weekend in a national series. Michael McDowell won in the XFINITY Series and Brett Moffitt in the Camping World Truck Series – the first in NASCAR history.

“I was teared-up that whole last few laps, because I could just feel it,” Larson said. “It was finally going to be it. This one is for the Clauson family. We really miss Bryan. We’re going to miss him. We parked it for him, so that’s really cool.”

Much like other races the No.42 Target Chevrolet driver looked promised to win, Larson overcame losing the lead to rookie Chase Elliott after final pit stops when a late-race caution bunched up the field for a final restart.

“We’ve been close a few times throughout my Sprint Cup career to final put it all together and get a win, it’s awesome.” Larson said, “It makes me extremely proud because we didn’t start off this year good at all. I was pretty down the first month and a half or so.”

Larson became the first graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program to win on the Sprint Cup Series level. He also clinches a spot inside the Chase for the first time in his career.

“It’s special because all the hard work has paid off.” Larson said.

The win comes three weeks after close friend Brian Clauson was fatally injured in a racing accident. Larson ‘Parked It’ in victory lane and dedicated the win to his family after celebrating with a thrilling burnout.

“He didn’t like people doing burnouts and stuff like that because he wanted you to act like you’ve been to Victory Lane before.” Larson said of his late friend, “But I hadn’t been to Victory Lane before. So I was going to do some burnouts.”