By Steve Almasy
(CNN) — No. 1 Florida State re-emerged in the second half and rallied to defeat No. 2 Auburn 34-31 in the BCS National Championship college football game on Monday in Pasadena, California.
The Seminoles (13-0) outscored the Tigers (12-2) 24-10 after halftime to win their third national title. It was FSU’s second BCS crown and third national title.
Heisman Trophy winner and FSU quarterback Jameis Winston was 20-for-35 for 237 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds remaining.
The fourth quarter turned into a back-and-forth affair. The final 24 points of the game were scored in the last 4:42 of the game.
The Tigers appeared to be on the verge of their second title in four seasons when Tre Mason scored a go-ahead touchdown on a determined 37-yard scamper with 1:19 left in the game.
But led by Winston, the Seminoles drove 80 yards in seven plays to grab the crown.
FSU’s rally included Levonte Whitfield’s 100-yard kickoff return with 4:31 left to put Florida State ahead. The extra point made it 27-24.
Tigers take halftime lead
After an early FSU field goal, Auburn scored three straight touchdowns to take a 21-3 lead.
But Florida State’s Devonta Freeman scored on a 3-yard run with 1:28 left in the first half to cut the deficit at intermission to 11. That FSU drive was kept alive by a fourth-down end-around out of punt formation.
The only score in the third quarter was a 41-yard field goal by FSU kicker Roberto Aguayo. He also made a 35-yarder in the first period.
FSU also got a fourth-quarter TD from Chad Abram on a 11-yard reception with 10:55 remaining.
Auburn kicker Cody Parkey’s 22-yard field goal with 4:42 left made the score 24-20.
Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall threw for two touchdowns and ran for one. He was 14-for-27 for 216 yards and one interception. Mason ran for 195 yards on 34 carries.
The game was the final championship contest under the current system, which featured the top two teams in the Bowl Championship Series poll. Next season, the top four teams will meet in a playoff where it will take two victories to win the title.
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