Auburn's Ricardo Louis makes the dramatic catch to beat Georgia in 2013 as Josh Harvey-Clemons looks on
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — It's been two years since Ricardo Louis came up with the Prayer in Jordan-Hare.
Please, please don't wake him up.
"It's still like a dream," says the Auburn receiver.
Still like a dream because it is one of the most dramatic plays in Auburn football history, an overthrown pass that should have been knocked down, but bounced off a Georgia defender and landed right in Louis' hands for a 73-yard touchdown play and unlikely 43-38 Auburn victory.
"It was one of those plays you dream about: The last couple of seconds, somebody needs to step up, to be the hero for the team. Doing that was a dream, a blessing."
Auburn and Georgia will meet again for the first time in Jordan-Hare Stadium since the Tigers' prayer was answered, this time at 11 a.m. Saturday, and this time with a twist. Tray Matthews, one of two Georgia's defenders on the famous play, is now an Auburn defensive back after transferring following that faithful 2013 season.
To make things perfectly clear, it was Georgia defensive back Josh Harvey-Clemons who tipped the ball to Louis.
"I never touched the ball," Matthews smiles as if to register an official protest to any who would think otherwise.
Harvey-Clemons transferred to Louisville after that season. Matthews transferred to Auburn, leaving Georgia behind.
"I haven't heard from any of my teammates," Matthews said this week. "I have spoken to anybody."
From Georgia, that is. His Auburn teammates have rallied around him.
"These guys? Oh, yeah. Everybody is saying something. 'Tray, are you ready?' I feel like they're going extra hard just for me," Matthews said.
Matthews wondered when he arrived at Auburn if his teammates would give him a hard time, wondering, too, if they'd replay the touchdown time and again.
"Maybe now that I'm here that will die down and I won't see it on the scoreboard," he said after he transferred.
His teammates have understood. The chatter this week has instead been about Matthews, the ex-Bulldog, playing against his former team.
"Everybody around here is making a big deal out of it. 'This is for you, Tray. Let's go win.' They want to beat Georgia as much as I do," Matthews said this week. "Everybody is putting more emphasis on it, and they're as passionate as I am about this game."
Louis has emerged as Auburn's leading receiver with 36 catches for 563 yards this season. But none is bigger than his catch against Georgia.
He's accepted his place in Auburn history.
"I remember running, looking back and seeing the ball was overthrown, and looking to see where the defenders were to determine what I was going to do," Louis said. "By the time I looked back up, the ball was already coming down and it got tipped, and I looked up to see where it was."
Where it was was in his hands.
Louis said before the rematch in Athens last season that he didn't know what he had gotten himself into.
"I didn't realize the magnitude of that play, not even after the game, not even a week after the game," he said then. "A couple of months after the game people were coming up to me, 'My dad almost had a heart attack and my mom passed out.' 'You're my hero.' Then I watched it and put myself in those people's shoes. How would have I felt?"
Maybe like Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, who laughed this week at his own retelling of history, of the Nick Marshall pass that wasn't thrown to the primary receiver, of a pass that probably should have been knocked down.
Lashlee was asked Wednesday how he graded Marshall's throw after the game.
"Good job. Just like we drew it up," he said.
He knew better. The fourth-and-18 play, with about 30 seconds to play, was designed to be thrown to Sammie Coates, who was standing wide open just beyond the marker for the first down. Marshall instead threw it deep down the center of the field because, as Louis and Marshall told the story then, Louis had asked him to with the promise he'd catch it.
Marshall threw it long.
"It's kind of like one of those deals where if you're going to do it, you better be right," Lashlee said. "Yeah, he didn't get a minus for that."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine
Here's the Prayer in Jordan-Hare, as described by Auburn's Rod Bramblett...
It was that close: Ricardo Louis wants for the ball as then-Georgia defenders Tray Matthews (28) and Josh Harvey-Clemons tried to make the play