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The next great Samoan football star: QB Tagovailoa

Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa celebrates with his parents Galu and Diane after overtime of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Georgia Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Atlanta. Alabama won 26-23. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

ATLANTA (AP) — Alabama has turned to freshman Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback.

Tagovailoa replaced a struggling Jalen Hurts coming out of the locker room with the Crimson Tide trailing Georgia 13-0 in the College Football Playoff national champion- ship game. Hurts had gone just 3-of-8 passing for 21 yards in the first half while running for 47 yards.

Tagovailoa, a five-star recruit from Hawaii, had played in eight games this season. Most of his action came in mop up duties, and Alabama went three- and-out on his first drive.

The lefty was far more successful on drive No. 2. Tagovailoa passed and ran the Tide to its first score of the game, a 6-yard touchdown to fellow freshman Henry Ruggs III.

He converted a third-and-7 play with a nifty run. He ran right and, with three Georgia defenders around him, reversed field and scampered for a first down on the TD drive.

On his third drive, Tagovailoa’ s up and down start continued. He threw an interception in Alabama terriority. Coming into the game, Tagovailoa had completed 35 of 53 passes for 470 yards with eight touchdowns against one interception.

Hurts was the Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year as a freshman last season and has thrown only one interception all season. But he struggled in a loss to Auburn in the regular season and played better in the Sugar Bowl against Clemson but still passed for just 120 yards.