Did I say it was Amen Corner? I think I did. I warned you… the faint of heart. Georgia always comes to play Auburn. I knew it would be a battle! Why you ask? Because of our defense. It is as porous as a sieve.
Auburn came into the game and dominated the first half. There is no doubt about that. Yes, there were bad calls on both sides. Probably the worse call was the first deep pass for Auburn where Sammy Coates went up and caught the ball but when he hit the ground it was fumbled away. Upon the review… the referees called it an incomplete pass.
Regardless, Auburn went into half time up 27 to 10. Georgia was reeling. But you have to hand it to Mark Richt. He never gave up.
Georgia comes out in the third quarter like a team possessed. The drive the field and score. Auburn answers with a touchdown of its own. But then something happened. I didn’t notice it until I started going back and asking myself what happened. Here is what I suspect: I think Coach Malzahn went conservative. And suddenly AU couldn’t do anything on offense. To make matters worse, our defense was tired and getting more tired by the play. Everything we did right in the first half… we couldn’t replicate in the second half. And Georgia couldn’t do anything wrong.
When Georgia tied the game at 37, I have to admit there was bedlam in the WDE1988 household. I was seeing red. It got worse when Georgia kicked the extra point and went ahead 38-37.
Auburn couldn’t do anything at all it seemed. On the third down play in Auburn’s last possession, when Marshall was sacked, I got that sinking feeling that you get when you know the inevitable death blow is coming. I all but knew the game and the season was over. I couldn’t understand how AU’s lead had been obliterated. AU was going to lose after leading by 20 points. How would this play on Sunday? How would this play with the bama fans across the state? This hasn’t happened since… Terry Bowden in 1996 when Georgia won the first ever overtime game in the SEC. We would once again be the laughing stock of the SEC!
Well, I guess at this point I need to tell you the mental state of my household because it actually does have a point in this story. I wish I could report that I had words of wisdom for my family, but I didn’t. I was just as dejected as the rest of them. I sat quietly. Watching them react to the game.
My son is twelve now. And he is a huge Auburn fan in his own right. He would make any dad proud. This whole season has battled me over the legitimacy of this AU team. I would complain and fuss and try to point out and explain that AU’s defense was terrible. AU couldn’t stop anyone… what were we thinking? He would continually point out to me… “Dad, these guys are playing the best they can. They are good. You just need to believe more“. Well, my son was so upset when Georgia went up by the point he started crying crocodile tears. I haven’t seen him that upset since the 2009 Iron Bowl. He was inconsolable. Bless his heart.
Likewise, my wife was upset that we were losing and upset at me because I had complained during the Georgia scoring run. That brings me to my daughter. With all the commotion… my daughter comes strolling into the room with AU pom-poms. I had to smile. She said it was going to be alright. I looked at her, and asked “how do you know. Do you know what down it is?” She quickly said no. I explained it was 4th down and 18 yards to a 1st down. She shrieked! And to make matters worse… AU had only 36 seconds left in the game. But Georgia had just called their last time out.
As Nick Marshall and the Auburn offense lines up to call the play, that is when things went into slow motion…
Nick Marshall goes back, steps up in the pocket, and throws down field. As the camera panned… I could tell he was throwing to what seemed like Ricardo Louis and he was in double coverage. To make matters worse… the ball was underthrown. And then it happened… the ball glided off the shoulder pads of the Georgia defender… it went up into the air… and came down in Louis’s hands.
In the next second, my entire family was up, screaming, whooping and hollering… giving each other high fives. Louis had scored. I knew… a miracle had just occurred right in front of us.
AU goes for two and misses. But AU is leading 43-38.
Jordan Hare was beyond loud, and it was rocking! On the AU sidelines… people were doing the same thing that my family was doing in our living room.
And that is when my daughter… looked at each of us and said…. “Did you pray?” I had to admit… I had not. I was embarrassed. My son said he had. So did my wife. But I didn’t. What did this all mean?
Auburn kicked the ball back to Georgia. My son was wiping his eyes thinking the worst was behind AU… and I said, “It’s not over.” He gulped, and said… “But Dad, we are winning now and a moment ago we weren’t.” I had to agree. It was hard to argue with that logic. But you know the rest. Georgia drives the length of the field… and damned near scored again. But in the end, Murray scrambles out of the pocket and is met by Dee Ford for a short gain. But it subsequently ended the game.
I had to pause. What had just happened? Maybe even twice in as many seconds… did I just witness two miracles??
Auburn led for three quarters. And because of a leaky defense let a very hungry Georgia team back in the game. Georgia led by one point, 38 to 37, with 1:49 seconds left in the game. Auburn somehow finds a way to score… and then finds away on defense to tackle Murray.
Anyone… perhaps Everyone would say Auburn SHOULD HAVE lost this game. But that freaky play, to me, demonstrated that AU was meant to win. You can’t plan to do that. It just happens. Players must be ready and trained. In this case, Auburn was at the right place at the right time. It’s that simple. Still, I personally think that we all saw a miracle happen. And I can live with that.
I looked over to my son who was wiping his eyes… and said “welcome to the life of being an Auburn fan”. We shook hands and hugged. And I knew he would never forget this game. I saw my daughter shaking her pom-pom and the smile that was on her face…. And I had a tear come to my eye.
What a great moment! What a sobering moment! As I finish crafting this commentary I am struck about the impact it had and how it will forever live in my family’s collective memory. I am grateful. These kinds of games don’t come along every day.
So as I head off to bed… I am going to get down on my knees… and give some massive thanks. For Auburn winning. And for my family having a moment that will transcend time.
God is good. All the time!