Miracle pass keeps Auburn’s SEC title hopes alivePublished 12:19am Sunday, November 17, 2013
By John Zenor
Associated Press Writer
AUBURN — With Auburn’s title hopes hanging in the balance, the ball deflected into the air and into Ricardo Louis’ hands.
The result was a stunningly improbable touchdown that rescued the seventh-ranked Tigers’ equally unlikely championship chances.
Louis scored on a deflected 73-yard pass from Nick Marshall on fourth and 18 with 25 seconds left to give Auburn a 43-38 victory over No. 25 Georgia on Saturday night.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Louis said. “It just landed right into my hands. I saw it once it got over my shoulder. It got tipped, I lost track of it … but when I looked over my shoulders, it was right there.”
The Tigers (10-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) had blown a 27-7 lead but pulled out one more huge play to continue the biggest turnaround in major college football. From 3-9 last year, they can win the SEC West with a victory in two weeks against No. 1 Alabama.
Marshall heaved the ball downfield with two defenders around Louis. It bounced off safety Josh Harvey-Clemons’ hand and Louis reached out his left hand to corral it. Marshall said he stiff armed a defender before letting the ball fly.
All he could do then was watch and hope.
“When I saw it get tipped around, I knew we still had a chance,” Marshall said. “It was a live ball. I saw that Ricardo still had his eyes on the ball. That’s something we work on at practice: keep your eyes on the ball.”
Aaron Murray, who had engineered the comeback with three fourth-quarter touchdowns, could only stare helplessly from the bench. A win could have kept the Bulldogs alive in the SEC East.
“That’s a freak play,” Murray said. “It’s like a nightmare. You try to wake up, and we are celebrating victory. It’s tough. This is going to be a tough one to get over.”
Murray led Georgia (6-4, 4-3) all the way to Auburn’s 20 but his final two passes fell incomplete as time ran out. Dee Ford hit him on the last pass as Murray ran toward the line before trying to throw.
Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said he couldn’t remember being on the sidelines for a similar loss since his Florida State days.
“When you lose, you tend to think about the things you should have done,” Richt said. “When you win, you just think about how great it is.
“Let’s face it, as good as Auburn is and has been playing, they’ve got all the momentum going.”
Some Auburn players climbed into the stands to celebrate with students.
The Tigers get a bye week before the Iron Bowl, which will decide the SEC West.