It was a pivotal moment in the game. Alabama, behind the two-headed rushing attack of Derrick Henry and T.J. Yeldon, had surged ahead to a 21–6 first half lead over Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, despite the Buckeyes having their way at time for stretches of the game.
The Buckeyes, thanks to two clutch 3rd down conversions from quarterback Cardale Jones, worked their way into red zone and got an answer when Ezekiel Elliott scored from three yards out to cut the lead to 21–13.
The Tide would get the ball back with 2:51 remaining in the half, hoping to preserve or add to the lead, but the Silver Bullets rose to the occasion, forcing their third 3-and-out of the half. Following a 59-yard punt, the Bucks got the ball again at their own 23 with 1:23 remaining before the break. Knowing they would receive the ball first in the second half, they went to work.
On 1st down, Jones hit wide receiver Michael Thomas for 14 yards. Then, Jones hit Corey Smith over the middle for five more. On 2nd-and-5, tight end Nick Vannett was the target, this time good for 18. Jones kept it for 27 of his own and the Buckeyes were suddenly in business on the Alabama 13 with 19 seconds left in the half.
What came next was a stroke of beauty from Urban Meyer and Tom Herman. H-back Jalin Marshall took the ball from Jones for a jet sweep to the right, but quickly flipped the rock to wide receiver Evan Spencer, heading the other way on a reverse. Spencer looked, set and hit Thomas for sublime pass over the outstretched arms of Tide defensive back Cyrus Jones. Twisting to pull the ball in, Thomas got his left foot in – just barely – and the play was upheld following a review.
Just like that, Alabama's lead had been cut to one, and the Buckeyes were headed to the break, a freight train of momentum, and getting the ball to start the second half.
Here's another look at Thomas' magnificent footwork:
Go ahead, young man. Throw up an O–H after that move:
Here's the call from Paul Keels: