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Nostalgia Friday: 1986 Iron Bowl

By on June 22nd, 2018 in Football, Memories 13 Comments »

Today we bring back an old feature called Nostalgia Friday. Each week at this time we’ll look back at video of a famous Auburn win.

What better game to start with than the 1986 Iron Bowl, better known as the “Tillman Reverse To Victory.” With 32 seconds to go in the game, Lawyer Tillman’s 8-yard reverse gave the Tigers a 21–17 victory and started four consecutive wins for Auburn. It’s one of my all-time favorites.

We’d love to hear your recollections of the game.


  1. uglyjoe says:

    Good to hear from you Jay. Watched this game from living room; went home for the weekend due to away game.

  2. wpleagle wpleagle says:

    A great win, especially after Bama's catatonia-inducing field goal in 1985. That one ripped my heart out!

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..What was worse than the field goal, was the way it was set up. Alabama was out of timeouts, and running out of time in their own end. Then quarterback Mike Shula threw deep down the middle! How stupid, I thought! This one’s over!

      …..I believe Craig Sanderson was the one that caught that ball, and he would not go down. He dragged two Auburn defenders all the way across the field, and got out of bounds with 2 seconds left to set up that attempt. I was SO mad!

  3. Older Whiskey says:

    This game is remembered by Tillman’s reverse (which he had never run before), but Brent Fullwood was the stud horse. 145 yards on 21 carries and the other two touchdowns. He was helped off the field at least twice in the second half, but kept coming back. bama had a chance to extend their 17-7 lead about midway through the 3d quarter, but missed the FG, and Auburn took hold. Fullwood scored on the first play of the 4th quarter to make it 14-17. On the final drive, Auburn had a 4th and long near midfield; Burger completed a 9-yard pass to Trey Gainous for the first down. Pat Sullivan on the sidelines as QB coach.

  4. AUTigerinBR says:

    Thanks Jay! This replay brought back wonderful family memories for me this morning. What a great day.

  5. Jhob_Tiger says:

    I was not born yet but I really enjoyed watching my Dad’s tape of the game growing up. He’s still got that tape. What an exciting ending. Thanks for the post.

  6. audude audude says:

    Glad to read your words again Jay. I think Older Whiskey nailed for me. Brent Fullwood going off not once but twice and I’m thinking we’re done each time. then he came back and was productive. The resilience of that team laid the foundation for many teams that followed and continue to follow.


    • WarSamEagle WarSamEagle says:

      Agree with both points:

      *Older Whiskey hit the nail on the head and,
      * It's good to read Jay Coulter again!

      • WarSamEagle WarSamEagle says:

        And what a surprise the reverse play was to everyone – we celebrated like crazy at our house!

  7. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..That is the last Iron Bowl I missed watching, due to work. I have scheduled a vacation every year since, that week!

    …..I was listening on ear-bud radio to this one, at work, totally disgusted for much of the game. Auburn had annihilated their way to the Top-5 that year, only to blow a 17-0 4th quarter lead in Gainesville to Florida. Then, there was a lackluster letdown game against Georgia, which ended up with a 20-16 loss, and the fire hoses being turned on the Georgia fans.

    …..Frankly, from the radio, it seemed Alabama was dominating that Iron Bowl, and was going to go on and with their 3rd in a row. Then Pat Dye actually went for it on 4th down, with a pass to Trey Gainous! It worked! Bama couldn't believe it!

    …..I was dazed as Auburn kept moving it down the field at the end. When Tillman scored, I went berserk, and even turned a hose on myself in late November! Epic win.

  8. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    Me and some friends went to Birmingham looking for tickets and wound up renting a hotel room and watching it on TV. We about tore that room up when Tillman scored!

    On another note: It’s always good to read Jay Coulter. Would love to see your regular column back on Monday’s.

  9. AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

    I was jumping up and down in my living room just like coach Dye when Tillman crossed the goal line. Great memories in this one. Thanks!

  10. DBAU81 says:

    This was the year that, during the week leading up to the game, Ray Perkins claimed the Iron Bowl couldn’t mean as much to Pat Dye as it did to him because Dye never played for either school. (Never mind the fact that while coaching at both schools Coach Dye had been a part of many more Iron Bowls than Perkins). After the 1986 season Perkins quit to go back to the NFL and was never heard from again. And Bama did us the favor of hiring Bill Curry. Good times, good times.