Christopher Smith

'Marshall's Miracle' Reminiscent Of Bluegrass Miracle

Created on Nov. 16, 2013 9:17 PM EST

Georgia tried to punctuate a season's worth of frustrations Saturday.

Trailing 37-17 with less than 10 minutes to go, senior quarterback Aaron Murray ran for a 5-yard touchdown with 1:49 left to give Georgia a 38-37 lead at Auburn. When Jordan Jenkins sacked Nick Marshall on third-and-12 about a minute later, it appeared Georgia would retain its SEC East title hopes.

Then, on fourth-and-18, Marshall chunked a desperate heave toward Ricardo Louis, bracketed in double coverage by two Georgia defensive backs. Louis, who kept running as the pass approached, appeared to locate the ball late. It bounced off safety Tray Matthews, who slowed to make a play. Instead, it floated into Louis' hands at the 15-yard line with nothing but green in front of him.

Murray advanced the ball to the Auburn 20 before failing to get off a clean pass attempt as the clock expired.

The CBS broadcast team of Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson predictably went ballistic. Earlier in the game, they'd crowed that a "national championship is on the line," which seems like a huge stretch (Auburn entered ranked No. 7 in the BCS standings with two games to play).

Then, Lundquist: "I started doing college football telecasts in 1974. I've never seen anything quite like this."

Granted, it was a spectacular play, but let's get serious. Nebraska completed a last-second Hail Mary to beat Northwestern less than a month ago.

Heck, J.J. Worton's 30-yard, one-handed touchdown catch for UCF erased a late seven-point deficit with barely a minute to play, and in many respects, was a more remarkable reception.

Then there's the Bluegrass Miracle (Nov. 9, 2002). This play reminded me of that game in that the defender tipped the touchdown pass.

Kentucky, a huge underdog to No. 14 LSU, took a 30-27 lead with 11 seconds left. The Tigers advanced to the 26-yard line with two seconds left. What followed was a play even more remarkable than the one we witnessed today.

There were eight blue jerseys in the picture, but somehow the tipped pass, heaved some 60 yards in the air, found Devery Henderson, who slalomed between two Kentucky players to finish off the touchdown.

Kentucky's players doused coach Guy Morriss after the field goal. Some Wildcats fans rushed toward the goal posts in the confusion, thinking they'd won. The clock read 0:00 before the snap, and fireworks went off.

"I don't know what to say. I feel bad for Kentucky's players. But this is a big moment for us and I'm happy as heck for our team," then-LSU coach Nick Saban said. "Well, sometimes you gotta be a little lucky and I think that was our luck right there."

Whichever play you prefer, last-minute or last-second touchdown bombs are thrilling and devastating, and among the most exciting plays in college football.

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