Nov. 16, 2013
Auburn's Ricardo Louis catches a tipped pass and heads to the end for the game-winning score (Anthony Hall photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. – Ricardo Louis was not supposed be in, not really. He normally doesn't play in the formation that Auburn used with the game on the line, wasn't supposed to be there on a fourth-and-18 play.
But there he was, a million yards down the field, running for a football that Nick Marshall threw, that bounced off a Georgia defender, that landed in his arms, that carried Auburn to a heart-stopping 43-38 victory in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"I still don't what happened," tailback Tre Mason said with a smile.
Who did? It was a wild game that Georgia erased a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit, took the lead with 1:49 to play, lost the lead to Louis with 25 seconds to play, and was still throwing for the win from the Auburn 5 on the game's last play.
Louis was in for Auburn because of his speed. But he wasn't the first option on the play. That was Sammie Coates, who was supposed to position himself to get those 18 yards needed for a first down. But Louis wanted the ball.
"Before we broke the huddle Ricardo Louis looked me in the eye and told me 'throw me the ball,'" Marshall remembered. "When we broke the huddle I went through all my reads and I saw him and he had a step on the defender and I just delivered the ball and he was able to come out with an awesome catch."
Louis caught four passes for 131 yards. Nick Marshall, who had thrown only 15 passes in consecutive wins over Arkansas and Tennessee, hit 15-of-26 passes for 229 yards and the biggest touchdown of the season. Or at least one of them. Auburn also has last-minute wins over Mississippi State and Texas A&M to its credit in streaking to a 10-1 record before hosting Alabama on Nov. 30.
The Marshall-to-Louis added to the storybook year. Marshall threw it a long, long way to Louis. But Georgia defender Josh Harvey-Clemons had the first crack at the ball. It bounced off of him. Louis caught it in stride and raced the final 20-or-so yards untouched into the end zone.
"I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it. It was right in my hands," Louis said.
It was fortunate, to be sure. But Louis said he was confident that could things would happen.
"I kind of expected to make a play because I told them, 'give me the ball, I'm going to make a play,'" Louis said.
It will be a catch that will be played thousands of times, and thousands of times over.
"Tre says, 'What's going to be your legacy?' I dreamed many times making big plays. I believe that's my legacy, that play right there," Louis said.
Louis soaked it all in when the game was done.
"I was confident. I wasn't hyper-excited. I stayed calm," he said.
He remembered what receivers coach Dameyune Craig said.
"The ball got tipped…I just stayed focused," Louis said. 'Coach Craig always says 'look the ball in, look the ball all the way in.' It paid off."
Video: Watch the game-winning catch with your voice of the Auburn Tigers, Rod Bramblett, calling the play:
Video: Ricardo Louis talks about his game-winning catch:
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine