Craziest play of the year? Craziest play of the year.
Trailing Georgia 38-37 and facing a 4th-and-18 with 36 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall launched a pass with a faint glimmer of hope into the vicinity of three Georgia defenders and one lone Auburn receiver, Ricardo Louis.
The ball was headed right towards safety Tray Matthews, who leaped to grab it. But so did Josh Harvey-Clemons, and the ball bounced off him, then Matthews and into the air and continued towards Georgia's end zone. Louis was in an extremely fortunate position after the deflection as he looked up just after clearing the Georgia defenders and snagged the ball to run in for the go-ahead touchdown.
Let's not sugarcoat it. It was an ill-advised pass that in any other universe was destined to end up in the arms of a Georgia defender or incomplete on the ground. But once it made its Bulldog bounce, gravity waited a split second to take over, long enough for Louis to spy it. And put any Iron Bowl SEC West championship game spoiling straight into the hands of Alabama.
It's a play wild enough to overshadow the work of Georgia's offense, namely Aaron Murray in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs fought back from a 20-point deficit in the final period -- also stifling Auburn's run game in the process -- and took the lead with 1:49 remaining on a Murray touchdown scramble on fourth-and-goal.
Had that stood, it would have been Auburn's time to pout about fate. Murray may -- or may not -- have been down before the ball cleared the goal line by a literal inch or two. The play was initially ruled a touchdown on the field, and replay angles were entirely inconclusive as Murray's lower body was obscured by the defenders around him. If you were a Georgia fan, he was in. If you were an Auburn fan, you were certain he wasn't.
And after the madness of Auburn's touchdown, Georgia still had another shot and improbably got to the Auburn 25 with eight seconds left, enough for two plays. But Murray's final two passes were incomplete, including when he was absolutely drilled on the final play and laid on the turf as Auburn streamed onto the field victoriously -- an appropriate metaphor for the seasons of either team.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Kendrick Lewis