Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne had a night of first Monday in the Sugar Bowl.
The 6-foot-2, 315-pounder intercepted Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant for his first career interception and returned it 21 yards in the third quarter. He then caught his first career touchdown pass from a yard out from Jalen Hurts to give the Crimson Tide a 17-6 lead in the second College Football Playoff semifinal of the day.
The No. 4-ranked Tide had a 10-3 halftime lead before Clemson kicker Alex Spence kicked a 42-yard field goal to pull the No. 1 Tigers within 10-6. Then Payne scored his toe-tapping touchdown after his interception for his second Piesman Trophy worth play of the quarter.
The Piesman Trophy is awarded by SB Nation to college football "linemen who do decidedly un-linemen things." A player from the Southeastern Conference has never won the award before.
The winner between Alabama and Clemson — who have split the previous two national championships — will meet No. 3 Georgia in the CFP title game next Monday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The Bulldogs defeated Oklahoma 54-48 in the Rose Bowl to earn its first berth in the CFP title game in program history.