Auburn cornerback Chris Davis (11) scores a 100-yard touchdown on a missed field goal attempt as time expired against Alabama to give the Tigers a win in the Iron Bowl. (Reuters)
AUBURN, Ala. -- The Immaculate Deflection lasted exactly one game as the most stunning, most impossible play of Auburn's ridiculously impossible season.
With the Iron Bowl tied, 28-28, with one second left, Chris Davis caught Adam Griffin's 57-yard field goal attempt deep in the end zone and returned it for a touchdown, and in the process returned No. 4 Auburn to the SEC Championship Game with a 34-28 "did this really just happen?" upset of No. 1 Alabama.
Davis actually returned the kick about 109 yards, but was credited with 100, per NCAA rules.
Moments earlier, Auburn fans booed when officials reviewed T.J. Yeldon's run and determined he stepped out of bounds with one second left on the clock.
Alabama coach Nick Saban summoned Griffin to replace Cade Foster, who had missed three field goal attempts earlier, including one that was blocked with 2½ minutes left to play and the Crimson Tide leading, 28-21.
That's when the craziness began. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn waited until it was absolutely necessary to pull out the surprise play. It worked beautifully.
The play looked like another quarterback keeper by Nick Marshall on the read-option. That's what Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones thought. As Jones left Sammy Coates to stop the run, Marshall pulled up and threw a pass to Coates, who was completely uncovered.
The 39-yard touchdown pass and extra point by Cody Parkey tied the game, 28-28, with 32 seconds left in regulation.
The finish was even more amazing than the one against Georgia, when Marshall's pass on fourth-and-18 was deflected by Josh Harvey-Clemons and caught by Ricardo Louis for the game-winning touchdown with 25 seconds to play.
A huge stop by Auburn late in the third quarter and early in the fourth left the game tied, 21-21. The Tide had driven from their one-yard-line to the Tigers' 11.
But Jermaine Whitehead broke up a pass in the end zone and Auburn
held on two more plays to force a field goal attempt. But Kade Foster's kick was wide left and Bama came up empty after driving 83 yards on 14 plays.
The Tigers scored on their first drive of the second half to tie it, 21-21 after being down by 14 points in the second quarter. Marshall found C.J. Uzomah from 13 yards for the touchdown.
Alabama had a hard time with Auburn's hurry-up offense, as only one play on the drive was shorter than six yards.
The Crimson Tide appeared it was going to blow the game open in the second quarter when T.J. Yeldon's one-yard touchdown run gave the Tide a 21-7 lead with 3:48 left in the half.
But Tre Mason ripped off runs of eight, 40, 10 and six yards, and suddenly the Tigers were at the Bama 17.
After a one-yard run by Mason, Marshall ran 15 yards around left end to the Bama 1. The play was initially ruled a touchdown, but after a review it was determined that Marshall stepped out of bounds at the two while trying to extending the ball over the goal line.
It didn't matter, as Mason plunged in for the score to make it a 21-14 game.
Alabama came out strong to open the game, with Yeldon nearly breaking a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage, but Robenson Therezie dragged him down after a 31-yard gain.
Auburn was able to force a field goal attempt, which was wide left.
The Tigers nearly scored on their first possession, but Marshall overthrew a wide open Ricardo Louis. However, Auburn did score on its second possession when Marshall kept on a read option and scored from 45 yards.
Bama tied it in the second quarter on a three-yard pass from AJ McCarron to Jalston Fowler.
Landon Collins then forced and recovered a fumble by Mason, setting up Bama's second touchdown, a 20-yard pass from McCarron to Kevin Norwood.
NOTES: QB Nick Marshall's touchdown in the first quarter gave Auburn its first lead over Alabama since the 2010 victory. ... Auburn already clinched the biggest turnaround in SEC history with six conference victories after going winless last year.