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Ricardo Louis still marvels at the Prayer in Jordan-Hare
Nov. 14, 2014

Auburn's Ricardo Louis makes the catch that beat Georgia last season

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  It was fourth-and-18 and the play was supposed to go to Sammie Coates just beyond the first down sticks. That was the first option. Get the first down, move on and try to beat Georgia and the clock that was now under a minute to play. 

Ricardo Louis had other ideas, telling quarterback Nick Marshall to give him a chance.

"I looked in his eyes in the huddle, and I said, 'Nick, throw me the ball.' His eyes lit up. 'OK, I'll throw it.'"

And with that, and a little good fortune, one of the most dramatic plays was etched in Auburn's history books and the memories of probably a million fans who swear they saw it in person.

The Prayer in Jordan-Hare, the 73-yard pass that Marshall threw, that Georgia tipped, and that Louis caught, will be remembered as the play that beat Georgia 43-38. The two rivals play again Saturday at 6:15 p.m. in Athens with the memory of Louis' catch still fresh in everyone's mind.

Louis said he can't forget. People won't let him.

"I heard about it the beginning of this week, last week, a lot on social media, from different fans, from family members," Louis said. But around the athletic building, around his teammates, "not too much. I'm not really thinking about last year, I'm just trying to beat them this year to keep our season going."

Louis said he didn't initially didn't realize the magnitude of the catch. He did months later when he was in Hollywood attending the ESPYs, where his catch was nominated as one of the best plays in the sports world last year. It didn't win. But Auburn did. Chris Davis' return of a missed field goal to beat Alabama on the final play was the winner. Still, "that was one of the biggest highlights of making that play was to go to Hollywood to be a part of something like that with Coach Malzahn and my teammates."

By then, by last July, the play was everywhere many times over.

It happened so quickly.

"It's become a big part of my life, because I would have never imagined making something like that happen," Louis said. "I was just out there trying to win the game, whatever it takes. The ball just happened to fall into my hands. The grace of God, I guess."

There were 25 seconds left when he got into the end zone, but seconds before, he had turned to Marshall.

"I told him throw it to me. It was fourth down, there was just a little time left. I was feeling it, I was catching the ball, running for a lot of yards, and I was just 'Nick, throw me the ball,' because I wanted to make a play because I felt I could. If it was going to happen, it was going to happen."

It happened.

Two Georgia defenders  Josh Harvey-Clemons and Tray Matthews  went for it.

"I was running down the field and I had a deep post," Louis said. "The ball was kind of overthrown and I thought, 'The defenders are going to get it before me. They're already where the ball is being thrown. I'm going to speed up, and the worst case it's going to get tipped or be intercepted, and I'll still be there to make a play.' The ball came down and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time."

Louis didn't need too many more steps to cover the 15 yards to run into the end zone.

"I wasn't too excited, I wasn't nervous, I wasn't 'oh, my God.' I was just glad I could stick my hand out," Louis said. "Once it was tipped, I knew I was going to catch it. There was no way I was going to drop it at that moment. When I got into the end zone it was, 'whew.'

"I didn't realize the magnitude of that play, not even after the game, not even a week after the game. 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?"

How did Matthews feel? He was one of the two defenders who had zeroed in on the ball. He wasn't the one who tipped it. But he is the one who transferred to Auburn after the season. He's sitting out this year because of the transfer rule.

Louis said he and Matthews have talked about the play.

"A lot of people mess with him. I tell him it's not his fault. 'You were probably going to intercept it if your teammate hadn't tipped it out of his hands,'" Louis said. "He said he's over it. And I said I'm over it, too, let's move forward.'"

"Maybe now that I'm here," Matthews said with some hope over the summer, "that play will die down and I won't see it on the scoreboard. Hopefully, they won't play it."

Two weeks after Louis scored, Chris Davis was returning that missed field goal 109 yards, and Louis, who had claimed a big play himself, watched in awe.
"CD's play is one of the biggest plays ever," Louis said. "When it was happening, when he was running it back, I was like, 'OK, if he breaks this tackle he's gone, if he's breaks that tackle he's gone.' It's happening again. I look at the clock and there's zero seconds left and I'm in shock."

Louis has kept it up this season. He has 17 catches for 185 yards, and has 14 carries for 175 yards.

"I played running back in high school and I love having the ball in my hands," Louis said. "Coach Malzahn and Coach Lashlee realized I'm pretty good with the ball in my hands on the sweeps, or just running it, period. That's just something I like to do."

And catching tipped footballs. Ricardo Louis is pretty good at that, too.

The play, the call from Auburn's Rod Bramblett...

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



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