Now that spring practice, A-Day, and the NFL Draft are over, there isn’t much present action related to AU football. Meanwhile, the upcoming fall football season seems so far in the future. Such a lacuna seems to me to be a great time for reflecting on the past, particularly some of the great plays I got to personally witness in Jordan-Hare Stadium and elsewhere. These might not be the most significant, or even season-defining, plays, but they certainly have stuck in my memory throughout the years.
The first couple of plays I remembered oddly coalesced around that Great Eighties-Nineties series with our non-conference neighbor to the south, FSU. It used to be a great rivalry game for both schools. And since the pain is starting to fade now from January, I thought I might revisit some of the happier memories from one of those battles with the Seminoles, back in 1985.
1. Bo Goes, Goes, Goes…and STOPS
On the first series of the game, Bo took a pitch on the Auburn side of the field for a typical non-spectacular-looking (because he made it look so easy) sweep left intended for a few good yards. Suddenly, though, Bo was through all the linemen and linebackers, with the defensive backfield guarding decoys downfield and to the right. But, being downfield, the defense had an legitimate angle on Bo, and one Seminole secondary member had Bo clearly in his sights as the he was running straight for the expected “contact point” at about the 15. I remember saying to myself, “They are going to stop Bo, unless he….”
And he did – Bo went from ‘Full Bo speed’ to almost a complete Stop in two-and-a half steps. The Seminole ran in front of Bo with only a hand brushing his shoulder pad. Bo stopped so fast that there wasn’t even time for the defender to experience “broken ankles” – he just ran right into the Seminole sideline before he could turn back to behold Bo jogging the remaining 15 yards into the end zone for a 53-yard score.
So, like the old tire commercial said, it’s not only how fast you can go 0-60, it’s how fast you can go 60-0!
This was the longest touchdown play I ever saw, not in terms of yards but in elapsed time. FSU had the ball on their own thirty or so, and sent what seemed like all the eligible receivers to their right and down field.
The Auburn D-line just comes storming in over their O-line counterparts (like a botched screen play) and gets to the QB, who tries to throw the ball away as he gets absolutely buried. But the ball is tipped up in the air and falls in the arms of AU lineman Ron Stallworth, who takes off (such as he can) towards the end zone, with a convoy of Auburn linemen, all being chased by FSU linemen.
Because of FSU’s formation and play call, there is now nobody but O- and D-linemen within twenty yards in any direction of the ball carrier.
Thus begins the slowest run back of any kind that I ever saw on any football field. The FSU linemen were running as fast as they could, but weren’t closing, and the AU men were running as fast as they could, but weren’t pulling away.
I could probably have caught these guys in my shape today at the rate they were going. Of course the crowd goes wild with a cheer, but it fades out in a few seconds – and the ball is only at the fifteen. Another cheer goes up and fades out as the ball goes to the ten. Up comes another cheer and fade as Ron finally gets to the five. And a final, muted, out-of-breath “Yay!” goes up as the Stallworth crosses into the end zone for a 22-yard interception return.
That play had to represent the most surreal, anti-climactic, time-out-of-joint joyful moment I have ever experienced as a football fan.
You can see those two plays, and several other great ones, in this blurry patched-together YouTube clip documenting Auburn’s 59-27 beatdown of then 4th-ranked FSU, in one of those typically unusual AU-FSU 1980’s matchups.
Were any of you there for those plays? What other plays (that may not have been particularly historic) have stuck with you through the years?
(who notices a “slow is good” theme in the foregoing plays)
Tags: Auburn, Auburn and FSU, Auburn blogs, Auburn Football, auburn Tigers, Auburn vs. FSU 1985, Bo Jackson, FSU, FSU Football, great Auburn plays, Michael Val, Ron Stallworth, Ron Stallworth-DT, SEC blog, Track 'em Tigers