Things were looking bleak for Alabama late in the 2018 SEC Championship Game against the Georgia Bulldogs.
Down 28-21 with a little over 11 minutes left in the game, all-time NCAA passer rating leader Tua Tagovailoa lay crumpled on the turf following a nasty hit to his ankle. Forced into action was fan favorite Jalen Hurts, who had started 28 games at quarterback but was pulled at halftime of the 2017 national championship game, with zero points on the board, against the same team and in the same building.
Thankfully, he seized the opportunity.
Hurts promptly tossed a dart to TE Irv Smith, Jr. to convert the 3rd and 12 that he inherited, on the way to a tying touchdown drive ending with a strike to Jerry Jeudy in the back corner of the end zone. After a stalled Georgia drive and ill-advised fake punt attempt by Kirby Smart, Jalen took the ball and marched again. Following completions to Smith and Jaylen Waddle, Hurts found a seam in the defense and carried the ball in for the winning score, after which he celebrated with a Superman pose that is forever etched in every Tide fan’s memory.
Jalen finished the game a stellar 7/9 passing for 82 yards and a score, and added another 28 yards with a touchdown on the ground, all in just 11 minutes of action. All of this after relieving Tagovailoa from perhaps Tua’s worst performance in college, just as Tua had replaced him 11 months prior. Hollywood wouldn’t take this script because it’s too far fetched.
That season didn’t end the way Alabama wanted, and after it was over Jalen moved on to Oklahoma to play out his last season. He had a banner year in Norman and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round, where he is currently projected to start.
We will never forget that day in Atlanta, though. I suspect he won’t either.
We are now 18 days from kickoff.