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Countdown to Kickoff: 73 Days

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One of the craziest moments in Auburn football history.

Lauren Barnard/Auburn University photo

Today’s a special edition of the countdown for a special play. After roaring out to a 37-17 lead against the Georgia Bulldogs in 2013, things started falling apart for the Tigers in the 4th quarter. Auburn’s unstoppable offense suddenly became stoppable. Auburn’s up and down defense hit a serious down. All of a sudden, 37-17 became 37-24, became 37-31. Then the unthinkable happened, Aaron Murray “scored” with 1:49 left. Inexplicably Auburn trailed 38-37 with under 2 minutes left on the game clock. Nothing made sense anymore....

But the Tigers had a chance to mount one last drive. It got off to an unimpressive start. Nick Marshall’s first pass should have probably been an interception. The 2nd was a quick hitter to Marcus Davis for 9 yards. Marshall then picked up a 1st down on the QB keeper, that’s when things really fell apart.

Tunnel screen to Sammie Coates on 1st down ended up losing yards as Coates tried to juke the whole Dawg defense. 2nd down, Marshall bought some time and floated a pass to the sidelines to Trovon Reed who dropped it after getting drilled. On 3rd & 12, Avery Young was driven back forcing Marshall up in the pocket where an UGA defender was able to get his paws around Marshall’s ankles bringing him down for the sack. All of a sudden, it was 4th & 18 from the Auburn 27 yard line with only 36 seconds left on the clock. The Tigers needed a miracle....

Somehow, Marshall’s YOLO heave found it’s way into Louis’s hands for a 73 yard game winning touchdown. The then sophomore Ricardo Louis did an amazing job finding the ball and corralling it while not faltering a step in his stride. What followed was pandemonium and relief. Prayer in Jordan Hare indeed....

As expected both radio booths had very different reactions.

I love sad puppies...

But Auburn’s defense wouldn’t let the tension end there. Somehow Murray marched the Dawgs right down the field and UGA had a very good chance still at winning that game. Well they did until Dee Ford slammed the door shut.

Everybody I am sure has unique and personal memories attached to this game. The College & Magnolia staff decided to share ours.


AUNERD

I attended this game with one of my childhood best friends. We’ve been to numerous games and watched plenty more together and have never witnessed a loss. Like not once... So just before that 4th down play, we stood in the endzone facing Auburn’s offense feeling just, well, sad. How the heck could our wonderful streak end in a game AU seemed poised to run away with? All I kept hoping for was some sort of miracle. Some sort of SOMETHING that would change the outcome of the game not only so Auburn could win and keep the dream alive but so my buddy and I could continue our undefeated streak...

Then Louis answered my prayer.

Nothing about this play makes sense. It’s the wrong read. Sammie Coates is wide open and if Nick hits him he might score on his own but he at least sets Auburn up in UGA territory for a very makeable FG attempt. Remember, AU was only down 1, they didn’t NEED a touchdown. Instead, Marshall chunks it deep to Louis because the two had decided before the play that’s what would happen. Nothing about that is logical but sometimes it’s not about what’s logical or right. Sometimes it’s about belief and being ready to make a play when your moment comes. Louis was ready and in being so made himself a legend in Auburn football lore.

My buddy and I were in that endzone Louis scored in. I wish Louis has kept running all the way up to our row so we could include him in the bro hug. Pretty sure we took out an older man next to us who happily joined in the celebration. When people call Kick 6 lucky, I laugh. That play was not luck but instead a savvy coaching decision. This play, however, was all luck. But you need that in special seasons. You need that play that shouldn’t happen but happens anyway. The great teams capitalize on that moment. Auburn football in 2013 was great. Not just because of it’s record but because after watching the program fall into the abyss in 2012, the 2013 team made Auburn football fun again.

Oh and FWIW, my buddy and I are still undefeated with this past 2017 UGA game in Jordan-Hare our most recent conquest. We didn’t sit with each other but we were both at the game. Might have to find a way to make some road trips this fall...


JACK CONDON

I was working for the Auburn Radio Network in 2013, and I was in studio running the sound board and making sure the broadcast stayed on the rails. It was one of those slow burns wherein Georgia kept coming back and scoring and we somehow couldn’t move the ball to save our lives despite the blistering first half. I remember the feeling of our very-good-but-not-quite-spectacular season slipping away when Aaron Murray definitely didn’t break the plane of the end zone to take that 38-37 lead, and then when we ended up with a 4th and 18, I had only the tiniest glimmer of hope that we’d somehow convert.

What was actually a perfect play call had Sammie Coates wide open on the left side of the field for what would’ve been the first down and much more, but Nick Marshall and Ricardo Louis made the stuff of legends. Louis essentially became Jimmy Chitwood from Hoosiers, except it was “I’ll catch it” instead of “I’ll make it”. I can remember the absolute roar of the crowd in my headset and Rod going nuts with what his, in my opinion, his best radio call (yes, even better than the Kick Six), and then looking around in panic because nobody else in the room knew what had happened yet. As Louis strolled into the end zone, Marshall was still fading back on TV because of the seven-second delay. For a brief moment, I somehow held it together to let everyone else watch on the screen, and then we all went wild together. I didn’t think it would get any better than that until two weeks later.


Drew McCracken

I had just moved to Nashville with my now wife after running the board for the Auburn Network the previous season. My wife had to work that weekend at the hospital and really didn’t understand my love for Auburn Football or really what SEC football was for the most part. My poor dog had no idea what was going on but the funnier story came from my brother who began a 3 week stretch of getting noise complaints from his apartment complex in Flowery Branch. After getting the letter he went down to the office and said, “You guys butt hurt about Saturday??? It’s fine, nothing like that will ever happen again...” Said on Monday November 18th, 2013....


SonOfCrow

I was in the Irish Snug in downtown Denver, CO. I lived in the house next to it and the Rocky Mountain Auburn Club met there for games. I at the bar, and when the referees signaled that Murray got in the endzone (he didn’t), the look on my face was so forlorn the bartender gave me another round for free.

Then, the play happened. Once Louis had the ball I hit the floor. I fell to a knee in bewilderment, my girlfriend at the time (now wife) was standing behind me unsure if she still wanted any part of this roller coaster. I cried a bit. I hugged a stranger. I high fived the bartender and like 10 more people. It was the greatest football moment of my life.


James Jones

I was in Section 13 as always. I couldn’t help but continuously run all of the ways we failed to run out the clock through my head. Sure Murray hadn’t scored, but it never should have come down to that. In my years I’ve seen plenty of these plays, and you never expect them to work (in hindsight, the primary read [Sammie] was open, and if Louis doesn’t catch that ball, I don’t know that I could forgive Nick for not taking it). My memory of the play is simply staring at it. After Ricardo made the catch, he just stood in the endzone soaking in the noise. In that moment, I just stared at him. I attempted to process what just happened, but I came up empty. I felt like minutes as everyone went crazy around me. It wasn’t until my wife, sitting to my left, got upset that I wasn’t celebrating with her that I came out of it. From there it was hugs and high-fives with everyone around me, then the loudest “BALL DON’T LIE!” I’ve ever yelled in my life.

Forgotten bit about this game: Nick holds up two fingers as he races down the field. He was so confident the play would work that he was onto the two-point conversion before he’d even celebrated. The two-point play, while it didn’t work, is one of my favorites. I still believe that if Auburn had scored a touchdown on the last drive against UCF in the Peach Bowl, they were running this play out of the Wildcat for the win.


Ryan Sterritt

Being from Atlanta and this being my freshman year, I was more than a little excited for this game. I was sick of Georgia, and was ready for what looked like a pummeling of the team that cast a dark cloud over my childhood. After the first half, I thought I was going to get just that. But drive after drive in the second half, as things started to unravel, my heart was beginning to sink. “Not again. Not like this.”

Per usual, I was in section 19, just above the walkway in the student section endzone. After Aaron Murray was awarded six points for not scoring, I was pretty resigned to my fate. As Marshall stepped back to throw that last 4th down play, and I saw the two Georgia defenders converging (hey Tray Matthews), I knew it was over. And then...

Once the ball got tipped up in the air, time began to crawl. There was a gasp, all at once from my section, where we all saw the ball floating, hoping, praying, that Ricardo was nearby. He strangely hadn’t gone up for the jump ball, and the next thing I knew the ball was floating over his shoulder. As it began to fall, you could see the moment Ricardo found the ball and began stretching out his hands. Then, he tipped it again, and bobbled it and honestly I thought it was out of his reach. With the entire stadium still silent (maybe it wasn’t but I don’t remember any noise yet), Louis finally got his hands around the ball, and glided into the endzone, just as shocked as everyone around me. Then the noise kicked in, and I’m not sure I had ever hear a stadium that loud. The rest of that night was euphoric. Hours later, I can remember asking my friend who had come in town if that was the greatest end to a football game we could think of. If only we knew...

73 days till kickoff! War Eagle!