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Najee Harris powers Alabama with record five touchdowns in dominant SEC title game performance against Florida – ESPN

Alabama running back Najee Harris put together a record-setting performance during a 52-46 win over Florida on Saturday night in the SEC championship game in Atlanta.

Not only did Harris set an SEC championship game record with five touchdowns, he established a conference record for career touchdowns by a running back with 53.

Closer to home, Harris broke Alabama’s career record for rushing touchdowns and rushing yards.

Harris, who called it “an honor” to set all those new standards, finished the night with 248 total yards. He was dynamic in the passing game, hauling in five throws for 67 yards, including touchdown plays of 23, 17 and 7 yards in Alabama’s first-half blitz. The shortest of those scoring catches might have been his best, as Harris sent a would-be tackler tumbling to the turf with a dazzling spin move.

“I’ve been catching the ball since birth,” he quipped. ”People don’t expect it because of the running back name, but I can catch.”

But it wasn’t just Harris rewriting Alabama football history during the win over the seventh-ranked Gators.

DeVonta Smith broke his own record for receptions in a single game with 15 and became the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards, surpassing Amari Cooper.

Smith went over 180 yards and added to his school record for receiving touchdowns (39).

Mac Jones, who finished with 418 yards and five touchdowns passing, set an SEC championship game record for completions with 43.

Jones and Florida quarterback Kyle Trask did nothing to hurt their standing as two of the leading Heisman Trophy contenders. Neither did Smith, the Crimson Tide’s other top hopeful for the award.

After Saturday night’s performance, Harris should probably be in the mix, as well.

“I’m not worried about that,” he said. “The two guys we’ve got up there now is good enough.”

In addition to catching all those passes, Smith came up with a key fumble recovery after Florida’s Trey Dean picked off a throw from Jones, snatching the ball away from the intended receiver, only to cough it up on a brutal, blindside hit by Alabama wideout John Metchie. Jones threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Smith on the very next play.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said the theme of the night was, “We found a way to win.”

After jumping out to an early lead, Florida clawed its way back, making it a one-possession game with under a minute remaining.

Ultimately, the Alabama offense, led by Harris and Smith, was too much for the Gators to overcome.

“I have to give our offense a lot of credit,” Saban said. “They answered the bell pretty consistently in the game. Over 600 yards. Smitty had 15 catches. Najee scored five touchdowns, had 178 yards rushing, caught five passes. I mean, these guys were pretty phenomenal all year, and they certainly delivered tonight when we needed them to.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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