Sept. 15, 2013
Nick Marshall comes through in the clutch for Auburn (Anthony Hall photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Quarterback Nick Marshall wanted another chance. He turned to his defense to provide that opportunity.
"I told the defense," Marshall said, "don’t worry about anything and just get us one more stop."
Auburn's defense did, and Marshall seized the chance. He threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Uzomah with 10 seconds remaining to lead Auburn to a dramatic 24-20 win over Mississippi State in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night.
The Tigers couldn't even run their two-minute offense to win it. There weren't two minutes left when they got the ball so very far away.
But Marshall needed only 1:46 to lead Auburn 88 yards in 12 plays for the win. Marshall accounted for 85 of those 88 yards by passing for 66 and running for 19.
Marshall finished hitting 23-of-34 passes for 339 yards, which were more completions and yards than he had, total, in Auburn's first two games. Marshall had his ups-and-downs Saturday. He passed for 199 yards in the first quarter. He passed for 18 in the second quarter. He passed for 84 in the third quarter. He had 34 yards passing in the fourth quarter before the final drive. He was hurt by a few drops early. He missed a couple of open receivers, too.
"He was able to put the mishaps behind him and lead us to victory. That’s a sign of a very good quarterback," said coach Gus Malzahn.
Marshall didn't seem to be bothered by any of it.
"I told them we were going to win this football game and we did," he said. "I knew I had made mistakes throughout the game, but I didn't let it get to me.
"It was a big atmosphere and I'm just glad to be a part of it."
Marshall said he appreciated the faith Malzahn showed.
"He believes in us. He wouldn't put people on the field he didn't believe in. I believe in him calling the plays," Marshall said.
Uzomah ran a double-move pattern that Malzahn had been saving.
"C.J. was able to go up and make a great catch," Marshall said.
Uzomah had this thought as the play developed:
"Just catch the ball. Don’t worry about anything. Don’t let the corner hold you, get off cleanly and just catch it and win the game," he said.
It was all moving so fast, but that's Malzahn's offense, anyway.
"We work on that every day," said receiver Quan Bray, who caught a 67-yard touchdown pass from Marshall in the first quarter. "It’s big because we are a no-huddle offense, all about tempo and he went out there and executed."
None of that accounted for the craziest play of all, the one in which Nick Marshall completed a 37-yard pass to Nick Marshall on a deflection.
"I really just went with my instinct," Marshall said. "I could see when I threw it, it hit off his chest, so I just went up and made a play myself."
Auburn snapped its 10-game losing streak. It'll try to make it two wins in a row next Saturday night in Baton Rouge. Marshall, who Malzahn told to stay cool, calm and collected against Mississippi State, will try it again against LSU. He's led Auburn to a 3-0 start.
"It's a great thing," Marshall said, "but we've just got to keep coming out in practice and keep getting better every day and keep these wins up."
Video: Nick Marshall talks about the win:
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine