Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Missed field goal return lifts Auburn over Alabama

AUBURN, Ala. — That crazy tipped pass for a long, winning touchdown is now the second-most stunning and improbable play of Auburn's season.

Yes, the Tigers found a way to top "The Immaculate Deflection."

Chris Davis returned a missed field goal 100 yards for a touchdown on the final play Saturday to lift No. 4 Auburn past No. 1 Alabama 34-28, upending the two-time defending national champions' BCS hopes and preserving the Tigers' own.

Oh, and clinching a spot in the SEC title game as West Division winners.

"We're a team of destiny," Davis said. "We won't take no for an answer."

He delivered a play that deserves its own nickname. Say the Happiest Return. Or saddest, depending on which side of the Iron Bowl you sit.

Davis caught the ball about 9 yards deep in the end zone after Adam Griffith's 57-yarder fell short (Griffith stepped in after Cade Foster missed all three of his attempts on the day). Davis sprinted down the left sideline and cut back with nothing but teammates around him in a second straight hard-to-fathom finish for the Tigers (11-1, 7-1 SEC).

"I knew when I caught the ball I would have room to run," said the senior cornerback from Birmingham, Ala. "I knew they would have big guys on the field to protect on the field goal. When I looked back, I said, 'I can't believe this.' "

Unlike the NFL, in college football such returns count as 100 yards no matter how deep in the end zone the returner is.

The Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1) seemed poised to continue its run toward the first three-peat in modern college football but couldn't put the Tigers away.

Asked if it was the biggest win of his career, Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said: "It ranks right up there." But he said he'd "probably" still celebrate just like he has since his high school coaching days: with a Waffle House meal.

"That's what you coach for, that's what these kids play for, to get a chance to win the SEC championship," Malzahn said.

The Jordan-Hare Stadium public address announcer had already declared it 28-28 at the end of regulation. But Alabama got 1 second restored and one more play after a review of T.J. Yeldon's run to the Auburn 39. That gave Tide coach Nick Saban a chance to try the long field goal.

"It was a great game," Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron said. "Sometimes luck just isn't on your side."

According to NCAA records, it was only the fourth time a missed field goal was returned 100 yards, including LSU's Odell Beckham this year against UAB.

"It is my responsibility," Saban said of the loss.

This finale even one-upped Auburn's last-gasp win over Georgia on Nov. 16, a deflected 73-yard TD pass from Nick Marshall to Ricardo Louis with 25 seconds left.

The result sets up the SEC to, perhaps, miss the BCS title game for the first time since January 2006. No. 2 Florida State and No. 3 Ohio State, the only unbeatens in the automatic BCS qualifying conferences, are likely to move up to the top two spots today, with each facing a league title game this week. However, with a win in the SEC title game, Auburn could leapfrog into one of the two spots.

. Did you know?

• Saturday was the second time Alabama lost as BCS No. 1 with two weeks or less left in regular season. The other: 2008 vs. Florida.

• Three times since 1948 that Auburn has ruined a perfect Alabama season (also 1972 and 1989).

• Since 2010, Alabama is 7-5 vs. Division I-A teams in November.

Source: ESPN Stats & Information

Buckeyes skate by

No. 3 Ohio State is set up for a possible BCS title game bid after squeaking past Michigan. 7C

Missed field goal return lifts Auburn over Alabama 11/30/13 [Last modified: Saturday, November 30, 2013 11:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pro Bowl returning to Orlando in 2018


    ORLANDO — The Pro Bowl will return to Orlando in 2018 for the second straight year.

    Bucs  wide receiver Mike Evans runs a route as Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. defends during the first quarter of the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl in January at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Erasmo Ramirez makes his third start of the season.
  3. If Tony Dungy sticks around, he'll broadcast the 2021 Tampa Super Bowl for NBC


    Lost in the Super Tuesday news of the Super Bowl coming back to Tampa was this nugget:

    Pictured, from left, Dan Patrick, co-Host, Tony Dungy, studio analyst, Aaron Rodgers. [Ben Cohen/NBC]
  4. Tragedy, tenacity helped shape Ridgewood valedictorian Johannah Cummines

    Volleyball Preps

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Even if her daily routine didn't permit calories to melt off, Johannah Cummines would deserve to pick anything on the menu.

    Ridgewood High senior Johannah Cummines and mom Chenell. Cummines is headed to Florida Atlantic, where she will play beach volleyball. (Photo courtesy of Johannah Cummines)
  5. Bucs Roberto Aguayo kicks off 2017 on the wrong foot


    The goal posts still seem to be moving for Roberto Aguayo.

    The Bucs woebegone place-kicker, who is in a battle with veteran Nick Folk, went 1-for-4 in field goal tries from 35-40 yards Tuesday on a set of narrow uprights, the first day of full squad Organized Team Activities.

    If that weren’t …

    Roberto Aguayo went 1-for-4 in field goal tries from 35-40 yards Tuesday on a set of narrow uprights.