Top Ten of the Decade: #1

THE #1 SPORTS MOMENT FROM THIS LAST DECADE:

Iron Bowl 2013 “The Kick Six”

THERE GOES DAVIS!!! DAVIS IS GOING TO RUN IT ALL THE WAY BACK!!! THEY’RE NOT GONNA KEEP THEM OFF THE FIELD TONIGHT!

Even just by reading, you can hear, in your head, these words being proclaimed loud and proud in an ecstatic deep southern accent by Auburn sportscaster, Rod Bramblett, that gives you goosebumps as you recall the moment when, in the 2013 Alabama- Auburn rivalry game, Alabama attempted the last second 57 yard field goal that would literally just fall short and would project Auburn into the last National Championship of the BCS era. It is one of those moments where people remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when it occurred.

The “Kick Six,” as it has become popularly known as, while an incredible play in it of itself, can not be fully appreciated without some background information to help people fully grasp the significance of that play. First off, Gus Malzahn was in his first year of his head coaching career at Auburn, and had managed to turn an Auburn team that went 0-8 in conference play, in the previous year, to being a national title contender in the next, all in one year. The manner he did so was incredible, squeaking out wins by a score or less against multiple division opponents (24- 20 Mississippi State, 30-22 Ole Miss #24, 45-41 at Texas A&M #7), and just the week before Alabama, Auburn kept their championship hopes alive as QB Nick Marshall, on  4th & 18, with 36 seconds left, from their own 27 yard line, lobbed up a pass that was deflected off a Georgia DB but then fell into the arms of Auburn receiver Ricardo Louis for the go ahead, winning score that would send Auburn into the Iron Bowl 10-1 against undefeated Alabama for a shot at the SEC Championship and a National Championship.

Never before had an end of season rivalry game, with its history and hate already embedded into it, have so much riding on it, on a national stage. Alabama had cruised into Jordan- Hare Stadium on an 11-0 record, crushing the competition with hopes of a 3rd national title as in as many years. Auburn, while hoping to keep its miraculous season going, was projected as the underdog, at home by 10 ½ points, with most of the country picking Alabama to go in and win and preserve their undefeated season. However, once the game began, point spreads and predictions fell to the wayside as two collegiate heavy weights started trading blows as there were multiple lead changes. The game remained tight and tied going into the 4th quarter before Crimson Tide senior quarterback, A.J. McCarron, threw a 99 yard TD pass, the longest play in Alabama history, to super star wide receiver, Amari Cooper, to go up 28-21.

With 2:32, the Auburn defense made a critical stop on their own 27 yard line, as they blocked  Cade Foster’s, senior Alabama kicker out of Southlake, TX, 3rd FG attempt that day, which would’ve put the Crimson Tide up by 2 possessions and made the game nigh impossible for Auburn to come back in. After six consecutive hand offs to Auburn RB Tre Mason, Nick Marshall finally pulled the ball back and sprinting to his left, drew the Alabama defenders in pursuit of him, and then tossed it to a wide open receiver Sammy Coates for a 39 yard touchdown pass, tying the game up at 28-28 with 32 seconds left. Auburn had executed the 2 minute drill to perfection and now looked poised to take the game into OT.

But then, Alabama running back, T.Y. Yelden, on 2 consecutive draw plays against Auburn in the prevent defense, ran all the way to the Auburn 38 yard line and stepped out of bounds when the clock showed 0:00, and it looked like Auburn would force the game into OT. However, Nick Saban fiercely argued that Yelden had been pushed out by Auburn cornerback, Chris Davis (recognize the name?), with a second remaining, and after further review, the clock was reset to 0:01, much to the angst of the Auburn crowd. To everyone’s surprise, Saban elected to go with a 57 yard FG attempt instead of a Hail Mary, and to everyone’s further surprise, sent in redshirt freshman kicker, Adam Griffith, instead of the starting senior, Foster, to conduct the kick. And here, the stage has now been set for the most dramatic and memorable sports moment of the decade.

Adam Griffith lined up for the kick and made a very decent kick, just falling short of the goal post into the waiting arms of deep return man Chris Davis, the same Chris Davis that had forced out T.Y. Yelden out with 1 second remaining that had set up this situation. Once Davis caught it, the rest is history as he returned the ball for 109 yards, sprinting past the Alabama players and tightroping the sideline, to send the Auburn Tigers into the SEC Championship, past the vaunted defending back-to-back nation champion Crimson Tide. The call made by Auburn sportscaster, Rod Bramblett, captured and immortalized the moment perfectly:

Chris Davis is going to drop back into the end zone in single safety. Well, I guess if this thing comes up short he can field it and run it out. Alright, here we go. 56-yarder, it’s got—no, it does not have the leg. And Chris Davis takes it in the back of the end zone. He’ll run it out to the 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 45—There goes Davis! (White shouts “Oh my God!”) Davis is going to run it all the way back! Auburn’s gonna win the football game! Auburn’s gonna win the football game! He ran the missed field goal back! He ran it back 109 yards! [fans streaming onto the field] They’re not gonna keep them off the field tonight! Holy Cow! Oh, my God! Auburn wins! Auburn has won the Iron Bowl! Auburn has won the Iron Bowl in the most unbelievable fashion you will ever see! I cannot believe it! 34–28!     ”

It was in that moment, when the world became Auburn fans; an improbable, unbelievable season, riddled with comebacks, tight scores, and answered prayers capped off by the most improbable of all victories. A season where being the underdog and rising to the challenge defined who they were and forged them to become who they would be. Too many, this moment and the call made was as iconic as Al Michaels “DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES” call when another massive underdog team, the 1988 United States’ Olympic hockey team took down the seemingly invincible Soviet hockey team, to put them in the gold medal round and win it all. For Auburn, and many college football fans, this might be the greatest collegiate sports moment of all time, if not in all sports. It was this game where I discovered my love for college football; as a 17 year old junior in high school, looking into the process of college applications for the first, this game set off my excitement for the sport, and while I did not end up going to Auburn (Gig Em baby), the “Kick Six” was burned into my memory for all of time.  It is moments like these that makes sports so great. To see the improbable, the impossible being done. To see a collection of young people get together and work so hard, to give so much of themselves, all for just an opportunity, a chance at being great.

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