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'The moments never too big' for Auburn's Nick Marshall
Sept. 19, 2014

Auburn's Nick Marshall runs away from Kansas State and on to victory

By Charles Goldberg
MANHATTAN, Kansas  When things weren't going as planned, when the scoreboard wasn't moving a lick, Nick Marshall said he looked down the Auburn sidelines just to see how everybody was responding.
"Everybody," he concluded, "responded well."
Few responded better than Nick Marshall, who helped Auburn to a 20-14 win over Kansas State with a couple of clutch passes in the fourth quarter and the coolness that has rallied the Tigers in the last two seasons.
With Auburn's defense providing support, Marshall threw a touchdown pass to Duke Williams to jump a shaky 10-7 fourth-quarter lead to 17-7, and then delivered on a clutch, gutsy third-and-9 pass with just minutes to play that enabled Auburn to keep the ball away from Kansas State. And he did those things after watching some of his earlier passes being dropped, and the Auburn running game having trouble up the middle.
Marshall's performance reminiscent of how he helped lead Auburn to late victories over Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama last year.
"It's why our guys believe in him; why they follow him," said offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. "He's able to lead in clutch situations. 
"The moments are never too big for him. It doesn't matter if he's played great all game, or struggled, or somewhere in between. When the game is on the line, he comes through for us."
Marshall threw a 9-yard pretty touchdown pass to Williams and a 40-yard touchdown pass to Ricardo Louis, finishing hitting 17-of-31 passes for 231 yards. He was Auburn's second-leading rusher with 46 yards, too. 
Williams, like he did in Auburn's opening win over Arkansas, jumped up with eight catches for 110 yards, though he admitted afterwards he dropped a sure touchdown pass early in the game.
No problem. Marshall just kept throwing passes.
"We believe in our guys," Lashlee said. "Nick made a bad throw. We've got keep throwing it. Duke will drop a ball. We've got to keep coming back to him. Those things are going to happen in games."
As for Marshall, "I didn't feel any pressure on me at all. We just worked together as a team."
"Nick," said running back Cameron Artis-Payne, "is always leveled head. He keeps his spirits up no matter what is going on."
Marshall had two touchdowns to his credit when Auburn took a chance at the end of the game. Faced with a third-and-9, and the clock ticking under three minutes, Auburn passed on a time-consuming running play in favor of a long pass that, if it fell incomplete, would have set up K-State with plenty of time remaining.
Were there nerves when the call was made?
"There are a little nerves, yeah," Lashlee smiled.
Then, he explained: "There are two schools of thought: You run it, you probably won't get it, but you run 40 more seconds off the clock and give it to them with about a minute-15. If it doesn't work, you're going to give it to them with about 1:45.
"We talked about it, and decided 'Let's try to win the game.'"
That's when Marshall found Williams for a 39-yard completion. Kansas State didn't get the ball back. Auburn ran out the clock after Marshall came through again.
"When the game is on the line, he's got the knack," coach Gus Malzahn said. "He did it all last year. He did it tonight. He found a way to help our guys win the game."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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