Impact Players

Jalen Hurts spearheads thrilling comeback victory for Tide over Bulldogs

Matt Bush - USA TODAY Sports

No stage is too big for Jalen Hurts. 

When Alabama trailed 24-3 versus Ole Miss last season, he was the one to spark a comeback after guiding the team on a 50-yard touchdown drive. In a defensive slugfest with LSU weeks later, Hurts would break the tie in the fourth quarter on an epic 21-yard burst to the end zone.  

Even in his lone defeat as a starter, he left the field twice against Clemson with providing the Crimson Tide the lead – before Tigers’ quarterback Deshaun Watson had one final word.  

Hailing from Channelview, Texas, the four-star prospect allows nothing to bother him, and in a season where his team has faced much adversity, Hurts is placing the unit on his shoulders. 

After hitting on some timely throws in a win over LSU, the sophomore lifted Alabama from a touchdown deficit in the second half to a thrilling 31-24 comeback win over Mississippi State. 

He and junior receiver Calvin Ridley were in rhythm often, as Ridley snatched five passes for 171 yards receiving.

While showing improvement in pocket awareness, both of Hurts’ 60-plus yard bombs to Ridley came from him avoiding pressure and keeping his eyes downfield.  

He led the former five-star in stride on both throws, setting up the Crimson Tide with scoring opportunities in the red zone. Five of Hurts’ 10 completions (19 attempts) went for 15 yards or more – including a pair of connections that moved the chains on third down.  

His 31-yard hook up to Ridley in the fourth quarter helped set up the biggest play of the matchup, as Hurts was able to redirect his guy on the route to pick up a crucial third down. 

Devonta Smith, the freshman who dropped a pass earlier in the contest, came up clutch with 31 seconds remaining in regulation.

Regardless of him staring down two blitzing defenders, Hurts slung a pass beyond their outstretched arms and it hit Smith on the numbers. The four-star from Louisiana would then proceed to brake a tackle on a slant route and score from 26 yards out. 

He turned in monster numbers – 447 total yards, five scores – versus Mississippi State during his freshman season in a 51-3 victory; however, Hurts’ performance over the weekend illuminated his confidence, leadership and possibly the thought of he can win a game throwing the football. 

Others may focus on the halftime speech of him ‘driving the bus,’ but the national championship experience from January has become Hurts’ primary source for motivation. 

“I couldn’t help but think of the national championship game,” he said to the press after the win over Miss. State.

“We had 1:09 left. Deshaun Watson had 1:09 to go and he went down and won the game. I was built was stuff like this. We were built for stuff like this and as a team, I think are built for situations like this. We try to establish ourselves as a fourth quarter team and we got it done tonight.”

For a defense that struggled with Nick Fitzgerald the Bulldogs’ offense, junior safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was happy to have No. 2 on his side with the game on the line.  

“He did a couple things that a normal quarterback couldn’t do,” Fitzpatrick said on Hurts’ final drive. “That’s why he’s Jalen.” 

Hurts’ 242 passing yards were the most he’s had all season, adding more to the notion that he arguably plays his best against Mississippi State. He was credited with all three of the Tide’s third down conversions (10 attempts) and its lone fourth down conversion that came on his legs. 

His two touchdowns move him to 55 for his career, which has him shy of tying former Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson (58) for second all-time in school history by three scores.  

Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

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