• AFP-JIJI

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Heisman trophy winner DeVonta Smith scored three touchdowns as Alabama capped an undefeated season with a 52-24 victory over Ohio State in the national championship game.

Najee Harris also scored three TDs as 13-0 Alabama won its sixth national title under coach Nick Saban, who now has a record seven overall.

“This is a team that was always together,” Saban said of how his players responded to the difficulties of the pandemic-disrupted season. “Everybody bought into the principles and values of the organization and program. And they just did a great job. They played together. They supported each other. This is a great team.”

Smith, the first wide receiver since 1991 to win the Heisman as the top college player in the country, didn’t disappoint.

He had 12 catches for 215 yards in the first two quarters, when his 18 points were one more than the Buckeyes’ 17, and he out-gained Ohio State 215-190.

He was unstoppable until injuring a finger on his right hand early in the third quarter. He was in the medical tent on the sideline for an extended amount of time and then headed to the locker room. He returned in the fourth quarter to watch from the sidelines.

“I’ll be all right,” said Smith, a likely top-5 pick in the next NFL draft.

His 12 catches were a record since the current College Football Playoff system was instituted seven years ago. His 215 yards were six shy of tying the record for most receiving yards in a full game.

He helped give Alabama a 35-17 halftime lead, which was 45-24 after three quarters.

Once Smith left, Harris, who finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting, took over.

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, who was third in the Heisman voting, finished with 464 passing yards and five touchdowns.

“Unbelievable,” Smith said. “We just finished writing our story.”

Saban, who coached LSU to the title in 2003, won his sixth championship with Alabama and his third of the playoff era.

He entered the contest tied with legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant for most titles of any college coach.

“I’m just happy that we won tonight,” he said. “I really haven’t thought about that (record) because you’re always looking forward.

“And I just love this team so much,” Saban added. “What they’ve been able to do, I can’t even put it into words.”

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