Auburn has its own miracle play
Nov 17, 2013 | 1616 views | 0 0 comments | 51 51 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Johnathan Bentley
Johnathan Bentley
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LSU has the Bluegrass Miracle.

The Tennessee Titans have the Music City Miracle.

Now Auburn has its own — the Miracle on the Plains.

Asked after the game, only Auburn's Ryan Smith admitted to seeing a play like Nick Marshall's 73-yard, tipped, game-winning bomb to Ricardo Louis.

"I've seen a play like that — in a video game," Smith said.

The real thing was on display Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn's harrowing 43-38 victory.

Heading into Auburn's final possession, nothing was going the Tigers' way.

Auburn had blown a 20-point, fourth-quarter lead to Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and company.

Once a sure-fire win, the game seemed to be headed for yet another Georgia thievery in Jordan-Hare. I had witnessed a couple of Auburn-Georgia games that followed the same script. In 2002, Georgia QB David Greene hit Michael Johnson on a 20-yard touchdown strike on a 4th-and-15 play with just over a minute left in a 24-21 win. In that game, Auburn let a 14-3 lead slip away.

In 1996, Georgia won 56-49 in four overtimes after rallying from a 28-7 halftime deficit.

On Saturday, Murray connected on a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown strikes to draw the Bulldogs within six points. He put Georgia ahead 38-37 with a 5-yard run on a fourth-down play with just 1:49 remaining.

Georgia had the momentum and the Bulldogs' defense seemed to have finally figured out Auburn's offense. The Tigers' previous two drives had resulted in -1 yards and two quick punts.

Things went from bad to worse with Auburn staring down a 4th-and-18 from its own 27-yard line and just 36 seconds remaining.

Going into the fourth-down play, Louis noticed that the mood had dropped on the sideline.

"I looked around and everybody looked sad. They had their heads down," Louis said. "That kind of hurt me because the game wasn't over yet."

It just appeared that way.

Before the snap, Louis had a quick talk with quarterback Nick Marshall.

"He looked me dead in my eyes and said, 'Get me the ball.' I put my trust in him," Marshall said.

In the pressbox, I wasn't so confident. A fellow reporter and I came up with the probability that Auburn would even get a first down — 5 percent.

That number seemed about right as Georgia defenders Tray Matthews and Josh Harvey-Clemons converged on Marshall's long pass at the Georgia 22-yard line.

Matthews was in perfect position to make a game-deciding interception, but Harvey-Clemons wanted to make a play on the ball himself.

With Louis trailing close behind the Georgia players, Harvey-Clemons got an arm in front of Matthews, tipping the ball right to Louis, who bobbled the ball before securing it at the 10-yard line and going into the end zone as Jordan-Hare Stadium came unglued.

"At first I was going to jump for it, because a field goal was probably going to win the game and that would get us close enough. When the ball got tipped, I thought maybe I could do more," Louis said.

Louis did do more, cementing himself and Marshall into Auburn football lore.

"I've never been a part of anything like that — a hail-mary type play. It's something we work on in practice. I just wanted to give him a chance to make a play and he did that tonight," Marshall said.

"Coach (Gus) Malzahn says all the time that we will find a way to win. He said it before the game today. I went out there with the same mindset: 'We will find a way to win.'"

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Johnathan Bentley is the Sports Editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at johnathan.bentley@mountaineagle.com.