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Gus Malzahn happy Auburn found a way in wild game
Oct. 25, 2014

Nick Marshall comes home to congratulations from strength coach Ryan Russell and coach Gus Malzahn

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  The defense didn't play well, said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, but when it mattered, the Tigers found a way to outscore South Carolina and intercept a pass in the end zone on the game's final play.

Score this one 42-35 Auburn on a crazy night of football n Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"At the end, we found a way to keep them out of the end zone," Malzahn said.

"It was almost a fun game," said South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier. "If we catch the Hail Mary and we make a two-point conversion, that might have been the greatest win in my entire life."

No. 5 Auburn beat the Gamecocks in a game in which offense was king. And pretty much the entire royal court. There were 1,086 total yards and 86 plays by South Carolina and 62 plays by Auburn and so many oddities, like South Carolina going for it six times on fourth down, that Malzahn was happy just to win.

"We knew that we would get their best effort," Malzahn said. "We felt like they were a Top 10 team in the preseason for a reason. 

"Their coach is one of the better coaches to ever walk the sideline. Everybody saw that tonight with the fourth-down calls and the onside kick. They did a lot of good things, but at the end of the day our guys found a way to win it. The defense did not play their best, but at the end they came through."

Malzahn had talked earlier in the week how much he admired Spurrier, then had to hold on as Spurrier went for the win in just about every way possible. He went for it five straight times on fourth down, and making it every time, before failing late in the game. The Gamecocks recovered on onsides kick as well.

"They went for everything and they got just about everything. They executed when they had to," Malzahn said. "That is the reason it was a close game and the reason it went down to the very end."

"We knew," Spurrier said, "we had to try and stay on the field. We almost did it, but we couldn’t quite do it because we messed up."

Malzahn turned quarterback Nick Marshall loose for three rushing touchdowns and a passing one. That wasn't too out of the ordinary. But Malzahn had some tricks of his own, like the pass from Marshall to backup Jonathan Wallace that went back to Marshall. Or the first and second catches of the season to tight end Brandon Fulse, one for a touchdown. 

Or rolling up 395 rushing yards, including 167 yards from running back Cameron Artis-Payne and 102 from receiver Ricardo Louis.

"Ricardo is a guy that is good at speed sweeps," Malzahn said.

Fulse not only had not caught a pass in the first six games, he didn't have one thrown to him despite extensive playing time. He's been a designated blocker. 

"Brandon has been a factor up to this point," Malzahn said. "That is what they were giving us."

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



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