Like many Auburn fans, I spent last night watching the ESPY awards on ESPN. I cheered again as I watched the Kick Six win two awards: Best Play and Best Game; and I watched it at the same place I watched the SEC Championship game, The Bank Vault (neé Bodega). I watched the awards with some of the same circle of friends that I watched the original game with: my friends Carter, Amanda, and Chad. There was also a person who I didn’t watch the game with, but whom my connection with was forever changed that night. That combination made me wax a bit nostalgic. This is the story of that person, of that game, and how the Kick Six changed my life.
I suppose the best thing to do would be to back up and add a bit of back story to flesh out this tale. Many of you know me as @AUPPL on Twitter (or PlainsmanParkingLot as my byline to this article reads), but I’m just a regular guy named Kevin. A guy who grew up in Opelika, attended and graduated Auburn in Mass Comm, did the Fraternity thing (pergé), and pretty much enjoyed my entire college experience.
I’m also a guy who has struggled with relationships. I’ve been a guy perpetually stuck in the friend zone. I dated off and on throughout High School and College. I tried and failed (considerably) to find my "one" and I had (somewhere around August of 2014) given up and resigned myself to the fact that I would be perpetually single and had (after many self reflections and conversations) come to peace with that fact.
That began to change around October. I met Lindsey online and we went on a few dates. We even did the "trial separation" thing for a bit. Still, she remained a woman I would think about constantly and I knew was my "one". If she wasn’t then I could officially retire knowing that yes, it really wasn’t meant for me to find true love. That happens to some people. I would be one of them. Sure, I still had reservations. I wondered if I was moving too fast. I wondered if I was over thinking. I speculated that I was being too eager (too "thirsty" as some of my friends warned me) and I would scare her off. I had been burned by that before and maybe this was another case of that same mentality.
I normally watch games outside of the stadium rather than in the stands, safely tucked away at the College and Magnolia tent with the most gracious of hosts: Kim and Murphy. Due to my work schedule, I can rarely make early kickoffs and even the CBS kickoffs pose a problem. The tent has become a de facto home for me on gamedays. Even with the early kickoffs or the midday kickoffs, I can count on being on my island about 50 yards from Jordan-Hare surrounded by my family of friends.
I had invited Lindsey to attend the tailgate with me and really hoped she would be able to make it. Unfortunately, she had prior commitments (and tickets) and would be tailgating with family before going into the game. I thought I had missed a grand opportunity to introduce her to my friends, to show her why they were so important to me, to let loose a little bit, and just enjoy the Auburn that we both love.
We texted back and forth during the game and when Auburn would score I would text a "War Eagle" or a "Wow". I mentioned how nervous I was during the game. How proud I was of the comeback. How I didn’t know if I could take the overtime. I was worried our luck had run out. I thought in the back of my mind that if Alabama had made that field goal that this would be one of the most gut wrenching losses I’ve witnessed as an Auburn fan.
"Chris Davis is going to drop back into the end zone in single safety. Well, I guess if this thing comes up short he can field it and run it out. Alright, here we go."
I began to pace back and forth. My eyes darted in a star pattern: up at the scorebug, down to the formation, left to the fans that had gathered around the tent, right to my phone, back up to the scorebug.
"56-yarder, it's got—no, it does not have the leg. And Chris Davis takes it in the back of the end zone. He'll run it out to the 10…"
I held my breath. My mind began to race. What is he doing? Can he even do that? Can you return a missed field goal?
"15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 45—THERE GOES DAVIS! (Oh My God) DAVIS IS GOING TO RUN IT ALL THE WAY BACK!"
Holy Dang, I guess you can run back a field goal. Holy…he’s still running. He’s. Still. Running. GO. GO! GO!! GO!!! I began to scream but the only sound that I could muster was a guttural whoop that surely sounded like an angry ghost.
"AUBURN'S GOING TO WIN THE FOOTBALL GAME! AUBURN'S GOING TO WIN THE FOOTBALL GAME! HE RAN THE MISSED FIELD GOAL BACK! HE RAN IT BACK 109 YARDS! THEY'RE NOT GOING TO KEEP THEM OFF THE FIELD TONIGHT! HOLY COW! OH MY GOD! AUBURN WINS! AUBURN HAS WON THE IRON BOWL! AUBURN HAS WON THE IRON BOWL IN THE MOST UNBELIEVABLE FASHION YOU WILL EVER SEE"
I began to hug anyone I could. I screamed and jumped up and down and did a shuttle run on the concourse leading to the new Student Act. I led a Boda Getta from a bench outside the tailgate. I celebrated as hard as I could and then I thought one singular thought: I wish Lindsey was here. I wish I was squeezing her and celebrating this moment with her.
In that split second, I had an epiphany. Everything was clear to me. Everything as focused. When you witness something as unbelievable as the Kick Six you start to reevaluate things. You start to believe. You believe in yourself. You believe in miracles. You believe that NOW is the time to take chances.
There is this euphoria you feel. It envelops you. It warms you. You feel invincible.
In that moment, I felt unassailable.
I looked around and celebrated with anyone and everyone that I could. However, something was missing. No, someone was missing. I realized that I was missing the one person I wanted to experience this moment with. Lindsey.
I paused mentally and rewound what I had just seen between the lines of Jordan-Hare Stadium. I thought about Chris Davis. Singularly focused and unwavering to the goal line. He didn’t quit. He didn’t play it safe. He ran to what he wanted most: the endzone. Why should I be any different? Why should I play it safe? All it takes it just one second to change your life. Now was my time to take what I wanted most. Now was my time to not quit. Now was my time to try for a miracle finish.
I texted Lindsey and asked her to meet me downtown to celebrate. I told her plain and simply that I wanted to kiss her at Toomer’s Corner. The kick was up and now I had to wait to return it.
I rolled the Corner. I celebrated some more. Then I saw her. That same feeling I had when I watched Chris Davis run 109 yards had returned. I felt that same warmth. That same energy. That same invincible spirit. We kissed at the corner and it was magical. This was my Auburn moment. Later that night, Lindsey told me she loved me and that she wanted to date me exclusively. That kick started one of the happiest times in my life.
I would later ask why. Why that night? What changed? I had been ready for a while but had been patient. She told me plain and simply that as she watched the Kick Six, as she hugged and celebrated with her friend that had attended the game with her, that something was missing. She told me she wished that I had been there with her to celebrate that unforgettable moment. That same feeling I was feeling less than 50 yards away.
Everything was incredible, everything was unbelievable, but something was missing. That something was one another. Now, we had finally found one another and we were never going to let go.
That’s not coincidence.
A week later, Lindsey and I would watch the SEC Championship. We would roll Toomer’s Corner and then return to the bar to watch the Big 10 Championship. We rolled Toomer’s again.
We watched the BCS Championship together. At Bodega on that cold and bitter night, there was only one person I wanted to hold and cry into as I watched the dream season finally end. It was her and she was there.
Last night I watched the ESPYs and the highlights of the Kick Six again and again. I looked over at Lindsey who was sitting next to me and I held her hand a little tighter. I smiled a sly grin and reminisced about November 30th, 2013.
The Kick Six changed my life. It showed me that it wasn’t a fluke that I had met this woman. We had witnessed history, celebrated uncontrollably, cried tears of joy. Yet, underneath it all, we were missing each other because we knew that moment would have been perfect if only we had experience it together.
I already knew that Lindsey was my "one". Now, thanks to the Kick Six, she had little doubt left that I was her "one". We shared a connection and feeling of need that made our love for one another grow stronger.
That night Chris Davis showed me the importance of a single second. He showed me that you have to take control and never stop until the whistle blows. Chris Davis inspired me to act and to run for my goal. He'll be getting an invitation to our wedding. He cemented two people together and left no room for doubt in either of our hearts.
There will be many more football games with Lindsey, but I know we’ll never forget the game we watched apart.