Davis’ return lifts Auburn past Bama, 34-28
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Chris Davis returned a missed field-goal attempt more than 100 yards for a touchdown on the final play to lift No. 4 Auburn to a 34-28 victory over No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, upending the two-time defending national champions’ BCS hopes and preserving the Tigers’ own.
Davis caught the ball about 9 yards deep in the end zone after freshman Adam Griffith’s 57-yard attempt fell short. He then 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 Southeastern Conference).
Auburn clinched a spot in the SEC championship game with the stunning victory over the powerhouse from across the state. The Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1) seemed at several times poised to continue its run toward the first three-peat in modern college football.
Instead, the Tigers put it away just when overtime seemed their best hope.
Alabama had gotten 1 second restored and one more play after a review when T.J. Yeldon ran it to Auburn’s 39.
That gave the Tide a chance to try the long field goal — and now it probably wished it never did.
The entire field was flooded with orange shakers long after the climactic finale of one of the biggest Iron Bowls in the bitter rivalry’s 78-year history.
It lived up to the billing — and then some.
This finale even one-upped Auburn’s last-gasp win over Georgia two weeks earlier. A deflected 73-yard touchdown catch dubbed “The Immaculate Deflection” by Ricardo Louis with 25 seconds left set up only the second Top-5 Iron Bowl matchup and first since 1971.
A team that went 3-9 last season and had been destroyed by Alabama 91-14 combined the past two seasons will play for an SEC title and perhaps a trip to the BCS championship game.
Undefeated Ohio State, which was third in the BCS standings this week and figures to move up to second behind Florida State, will have something to say about which teams play for the national title. No doubt the Buckeyes, who won their own thriller against Michigan earlier in the day, were celebrating Auburn’s win almost as much as the Tigers.
On the final play, Alabama turned to Griffith to replace Cade Foster, who had missed three field goals, with a potential clinching 44-yarder going low and getting blocked in the final minutes. Griffith was only 1 of 2 all season with a long of 20 yards.
Nick Marshall had tied the game with a 39-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Sammie Coates with 32 seconds left after Auburn blocked a low field goal attempt. The Tigers moved 65 yards in 2 minutes all on the ground with Mason until that play.
Marshall raced toward the line with two defensive backs coming after him. Then he pulled up just in time with the ball tucked in his left hand, deftly switching it to his right and lofting the pass to Coates standing all by himself.
McCarron, a Heisman Trophy candidate, had staked Alabama to a 28-21 lead with a 99-yard pass to Amari Cooper for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Tide had a few chances to put the game away, but couldn’t convert a fourth-and-short deep in Auburn territory, had the third of four missed field goals and Cooper dropped a potential TD in the end zone.