Sunday, December 1, 2013

End of Auburn vs. Alabama Is One Second In College Football That Will Be Talked About Forever

AUBURN WINS. on Twitpic

End of Auburn vs. Alabama Is One Second In College Football That Will Be Talked About Forever

With one second left on the clock, Adam Griffith's missed 57-yard field goal attempt came up short and into the arms of Auburn's Chris Davis to start the greatest ending any big college football game has ever seen.

Auburn cornerback Chris Davis returns a missed field-goal attempt 100-plus yards to score the game-winning touchdown as time expires.
Auburn cornerback Chris Davis returns a missed field-goal attempt 100-plus yards to score the game-winning touchdown as time expires.
On the television screen, on screens all across the country on Thanksgiving weekend, a time when extraordinary things have happened before in college football, the long field goal attempt from Alabama’s Adam Griffith, a 57-yard field goal attempt, was coming up short.
So this was the beginning of it, the start of the greatest ending to any big game college football has ever seen, the ball falling into the arms of an Auburn kid named Chris Davis. Like the season was coming into the kid’s arms one yard from the back of the Auburn end zone.
One second on the clock.
The beginning of what was officially one second in college football that will be talked about forever. This was the Iron Bowl, No. 1 Alabama against No. 4 Auburn, at Auburn; this was unbeaten Alabama going for three straight national championships under Nick Saban. If Saban’s team gets there it goes down in history with the best in his sport’s history. Saban himself? He is already one of the best coaches, even if he wasn’t close to being that at the finish of Auburn-Alabama on Saturday.
Not now: Not when he thought he was giving his team a chance to win this game before overtime by letting Griffith, replacing the Alabama kicker who had already missed three field goal attempts, try to make a game-winning kick from Tuscaloosa. Not as cornerback Chris Davis, No. 11 for Auburn, began to run toward the left sideline and pick up speed and blockers, as a national television audience began to realize just exactly what it was seeing.
It was 28-28. So much had happened already between these two teams, including a 99-yard touchdown pass from the Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron that had made it 28-21 for his team. But Auburn came back again, the way it had come back from 21-7 to get to within a touchdown at halftime and Nick Marshall, the Auburn quarterback, had finally tied it by pulling up before he crossed the line of scrimmage and throwing a 39-yard touchdown pass to Sammie Coates with 32 seconds left.
The Auburn Tigers were 10-1. Alabama, of course, was 11-0 already. This wasn’t No. 1 against No. 2, but it was close enough at Jordan-Hare Stadium, a regular-season game feeling like a title game, feeling the way No. 1 versus No. 2 used to feel when it was Nebraska against Oklahoma back in 1971, another Thanksgiving weekend in college football.
And 29 years ago, on another Thanksgiving weekend, it was Doug Flutie throwing the ball as far as he could to his best friend, Gerard Phelan, and beating Miami on the last play of the game in the Orange Bowl, as famous a throw and as famous an ending as their sport had ever seen.
AJ McCarron celebrates throwing a 99-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper.
AJ McCarron celebrates throwing a 99-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper.
Only now Chris Davis, No. 11 of Alabama, had a different ending in mind. If you were watching the end of the game on television, all of a sudden you saw the field opening up for him, saw that he hadn’t stepped out of bounds when it seemed as if his own momentum might stop him before anybody from Alabama did.
You realized, maybe halfway into it, maybe a little before that, that Davis might be able to go all the way, might take the ball from what felt like one of the tunnels at Jordan-Hare Stadium into his own place in college football history.
They should have been in overtime already, Auburn and Alabama. But on what looked like the last play of regulation, T.J. Yeldon, the star Alabama running back, because there is always a star running back for Saban at Alabama, wouldn’t stop running and nobody could bring him down until he got to the Auburn 39-yard line. The whole world thinking that the clock had run out at that point, Saban saying no it hadn’t, the officials checking the replay, deciding there was still one second left. What was about to become the most unreal second — in real football time — that football had ever seen anywhere.
Already this was an improbable season for Auburn, it had beaten Georgia two weeks ago on what was called an “Immaculate Deflection,” the ball bouncing off Georgia defenders and into Ricardo Louis’ hands and Louis running the rest of the way with the touchdown that set up this Iron Bowl on Saturday.
Chris Davis is surrounded after scoring the winning touchdown. 
Chris Davis is surrounded after scoring the winning touchdown.
Saban fought for that extra second early Saturday night, fought for it and got it. But when Griffith’s kick came up a few yards short, the play suddenly became a kick return for Chris Davis. Only Saban didn’t have a kickoff team trying to catch him or stop him, he had a field goal kicker and a bunch of blockers scattered all over the field as Davis was flying down the left sideline, and the improbable became more probable a few yards at a time for coach Gus Malzahn’s Auburn Tigers.
“Never saw a game end that way,” Saban would say.
A game that really had seen so much, seen both teams make fourth-down stops in the fourth quarter, had seen that 99-yard touchdown pass from McCarron to Amari Cooper was now going to see Davis go 109 and beat what people would have called one of the great college teams of them all if Nick Saban’s team could win it again.
The last Alabama player with a shot at Davis was a kid named Cody Mandell at midfield. But he was too late, then all you saw was the back of Davis’ blue jerseys and all the blue jerseys around him, saw Davis’ teammates catch up with him finally at the back of the other team’s end zone now, Auburn 34 now, Alabama 28 in the Iron Bowl, forever.
“I was in disbelief,” the wonderful Auburn running back, Tre Davis, would say to ESPN’s Chris Fowler when it was over. “(Davis) blew right past me.”
There have always been great moments to end great college football games. Flutie to Phelan. Johnny Rodgers’ brilliant run to set up Jeff Kinney’s winning score in that ’71 Game of the Century between Nebraska and Oklahoma. Vince Young beating USC in the Rose Bowl to win the BCS championship that time.
Just never one like this, never one like Chris Davis’ 109 yards and one official second of football time early Saturday night at Auburn. Only thing missing was the Stanford band. — New York Daily News

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