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Great Moments in Auburn Football History – “Nix to Sanders”

By on September 25th, 2013 in Football 10 Comments »

Nov. 20, 1993 Auburn is trailing Alabama 14 -5 late in the third quarter when starting quarterback Stan White goes down with a knee injury. In to the game comes his backup, sophomore Patrick Nix. The Tigers are facing 4th and 14 from the 35 yard line. Legendary Auburn play by play announcer Jim Fyffe described the next few moments this way:

“Out of the shotgun, Patrick Nix. Alabama bringing everybody. Nix is gonna float one for Sanders, Sanders – Oh HE Caught it at the TWO! And He Dives In ! TOUCHDOWN AUBURN! TOUCHDOWN AUBURN! Oh My Goodness! Sanders Went Up Over Tommy Johnson or Antonia Langham. He Caught the Ball at the Two. How he Held it, I Don’t Know. But He Dived Into the Endzone, and Auburn’s Right Back In the Thick of it … A 35 Yard Pass Play. Patrick Nix to Frank Sanders!”

Auburn went onto win the 58th Iron Bowl 22-14. And, “Nix to Sanders” went onto become one of those phrase like, “Punt Bama Punt” that’s forever burned into the Auburn psyche. I know it’s true for me. I can still see it in my mind’s eye. I was sitting with my wife in section 45. Sanders made the acrobatic catch right in front of us. It will always be one of our favorite moments in Jordan-Hare

I was reminded of the play a few days ago when it was announced that Frank Sanders was selected as one of 14 former Southeastern Conference greats to be named to the SEC Football Legends Class of 2013.

It wasn’t the last time fans heard Fyffe yell that phrase. Probably the second most memorable “Nix to Sanders” call came the next year when Auburn played No.1 Florida in the hostile environment of the Swamp of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

With 30 seconds to go in the game, Sanders made another acrobatic catch, leaping between two defenders to pull down Nix’s eight yard pass for a touchdown giving the No. 6 Tigers’ the upset win over No.1 Florida 36-33.

Frank truly is an Auburn legend. He led the SEC in receiving yards (910) his senior year and finished his career in second place on Auburn’s all-time list of total receptions (121), with 1,998 total yards, and 15 touchdowns. The stellar performance led to him being named First Team All-SEC as well as an All-American in 1994.

After graduation he went onto play nine seasons in the NFL mostly with the Arizona Cardinals, retiring after 2003 with 507 career receptions for 6,749 yards and 24 touchdowns.

Today, Sanders lives in Birmingham. On December 6-7 he will be honored at the 2013 SEC Weekend of Champions Banquet and at the league’s Championship Game in Atlanta. Frank Sanders has always been an Auburn legend … now he will be an SEC Legend too.



  1. Im4Auburn says:

    Good read. One of my all time favorite Jim Fyffe calls and Sanders is certainly deserving of this honor. Congratulations Frank!

  2. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    ……My neighbors definitely decided I was certifiable during that 1993 Iron Bowl! It wasn’t televised, so I was on ear-buds. It was a pretty cool day, maybe 45 degrees here in the Tragic City. I decided to rake the mountains of leaves in my yard while listening to the game.

    ……We (or at least I was) were all full of our bad selves coming into that game at 10-0. We had spanked UGA in Athens, and knocked off Florida earlier in the year. Bama looked vulnerable, having miraculously salvaged a tie with Tennessee, then losing to LSU. Of course, it was the Iron Bowl, and every banged-up Tide man that could walk was suited up, and would play.

    …..That game didn’t go so well for most of 3 quarters. Bama put together a pair of quick-strike TD drives, while Auburn could hardly make a first down. We trailed 14-5 in the third quarter, and Bama twice drove into Auburn territory looking to salt the game away. Somehow, Auburn managed to throw them back, or really, Bama got flagged back out of range.

    …..Stan White started a do or die drive midway through the third. Somehow, we eeked out first down after first down, to face 3rd and 9 at the Bama 29. Then the sack and knee injury happened. I threw my rake down, let out a string of swear words, and almost turned the game off.

    …..I shook my head. Auburn had really laid an egg in this one. And wait… what was Bowden DOING? Punt the da^@ed ball, you IDIOT! Well, Brother Bill called an all-out blitz, with man coverage downfield, and did not have all-American Antonio Langham on Sander’s side. Nix floated it, touchdown!

    …..I went absolutely bonkers, screaming unintelligibly! I dived into a leaf pile, and rolled around like I was on fire, screaming myself hoarse! Neighbors were poking their heads out, and I’d let off a big WAR EAGLE! as loud as I could yell every time!

    …..I don’t think I got much raking done after Nix to Sanders. I paced the yard as the sun set, hanging on every word from Jim Fyffe and Charlie Trotman. I had another leaf-rolling moment when James Bostic broke off the 70 yard run late. That was the best Iron Bowl EVER, that I did not see!

  3. auh20 auh20 says:

    I’m sure I heard and/or read that Nix, relieving the injured Stan White, didn’t get to warm up his throwing arm but lofted that long distance pass that was another dagger to the crimson heart. We haven’t won quite as many Iron Bowls as the “entitled ones” but when we do, it usually breaks a lot of hearts. ’72, ’89, ’93, ’10, etc.

  4. ‘James Bostic’s running at me!’…..That’s how I remember that game. It was the game that I officially fell in love with Terry Bowden’s coaching style (which is why it has taken me an unreasonable amount of time to forgive him for leaving us mid-season). I was fortunate enough to be in the stands-and in one of the end zones-at that.

    It was a horrendous 3 quarters…..then the Nix to Sanders happened and everyone was on their feet! Now, Pops of ToTM is usually one who herds everyone out of the stadium with 2 minutes left so that we could get a head start back to the Tragic City. Not this game. We stayed in the stands and celebrated! We were undefeated–not heading to a bowl, because of double secret probation from the NCAA…but undefeated. We went to Toomer’s! That night was legendary! I *still* appreciate getting to go to that game!! I hope that Pops of ToTM knows that…..

    • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

      Thanks for sharing that TotM. I’m sure Pops knows. Moments like that are the kind of things that stay with parents for the rest of their lives. I’m glad you have that memory. Precious indeed.

    • BigDaddyAU says:

      I was in the AU Marching Band in 1993 and was standing about 10 paces from the spot where Tony Richardson flat-out jacked James Bostic after that run. I watched the play unfold at field level and I tell you this, Bostic’s eyes were as big as a half dollar on his way into the end zone. It was the greatest sensation and feeling I had ever been a part of up until that point.

      • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

        …..I’ll bet that 1993 season was a BLAST to be in the band. I marched in the AU band in 1978 and 1980. I was a really loud trombone blatter! I won’t claim I was very good at it… just loud.

        …..We had Cribbs and Brooks in 78, and Brooks trying to do it alone in 1980, all 150 pounds of him. Brooks was about McCalebb-sized, and somehow made a pretty productive NFL career, too.

        …..’79 was the year I got my foot hung in trampoline springs and broke it right before band camp. It was the year of the pint of Bacardi in the student section… although I was in and out of school thru the summer of 1984, didn’t have the time for band after 1980.

  5. Didn’t get to attend that game but I’ll always remember Jim Fyffe hollering “Eleven and O”, Eleven and O!” Sanders deserves this honor.

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