Quan Bray steps through would-be tacklers on his way to a touchdown on a 55-yard punt return
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — And so, for one moment, everything came together for Auburn veterans Quan Bray and Trovon Reed, who have gone through the good times and not-so-good times together, and who each celebrated a big play Saturday night.
Oh, not by a reception, though both have played receiver. Not even by a trick play in Auburn's 59-13 win over San Jose State.
Reed, the receiver-turned-defensive back, made an interception in the end zone and Bray scored on a masterful 55-yard punt return.
Bray said he sensed something special could happen.
"That's really crazy, because I texted him before the game, 'Let's go out and have fun and make plays,'" he said. "He caught an interception and I ran a punt return back."
Those were special moments for the seniors, and Reed was thankful for his chance at a new position, and to watch Bray weave through traffic and score.
"If Coach Malzahn hadn't grabbed me I would have been the first one off the sideline...just knowing his struggles like me...without having our moms in our lives, going through a lot of playing time (issues)," Reed said. "I'm so proud of him. I kissed on his forehead and told him, 'I love you, man.'"
Bray then said it was Reed's turn. Reed complied, intercepting a pass late in the game.
"I couldn't really see what was going on because I was in man coverage," Reed said. "But when I watched the big screen, the defensive line, I thank those guys for getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback. He threw it up.
"I just say... 'I'm going to be a receiver again. I'm going to get it. They're not going to come down with it. I'm going to find a way to come down with it.'"
Reed, who had 39 catches in his former job as a receiver, came down with it.
"I just came in with the mindset that I'm locked in. I'm going to do my job."
Reed has tried his hand at about everything: He has those 39 catches, has five rushes, has 11 punt returns.
Now, he has an interception.
Bray, meanwhile, did his job catching a punt and racing to end zone, often in the middle of the field sidestepping and shaking off would-be tacklers. Bray remembers some of his moves, but said he didn't realize defenders were on him.
"To be honest, I didn't. I was just running," he said. "I didn't know anybody was on me like that. I guess you're just caught up in the moment."
Watch Quan Bray's punt return for the touchdown.
Bray has returned three punts this season for 86 yards, a nifty 28.7 average per return, good for the third best figure in the NCAA.
On his latest, he said, "I wasn't going down. If I got that far, I just can't go down, because I don't want to hear anybody say, 'I got tackled by the punter.' That wouldn't be good. I just had the mindset I had to get in the end zone."
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said that was a veteran move.
"When guys are seniors, they raise their level, and we ask a lot of our seniors to do that and I believe that he is definitely doing that," Malzahn said. "We have gotten a little better around all the specialists too. I'm very happy for Quan. He's very confident right now."
The fans liked it, too.
"I did hear the crowd," Bray said, "especially when I scored."
Charles Goldberg is a Senor Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine