EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 14th story in a series on the 15 most memorable SEC football games beat writer David Paschall has covered since joining the newspaper in 1990. The games are being presented in chronological order.
By this point, we've all seen the "Kick Six" too many times to count.
A second is put back on the clock, and Alabama's Adam Griffith attempts a 57-yard field goal that comes up short as the ball lands in the hands of Auburn's Chris Davis in the back of the end zone. Davis heads up the left sideline and scores from 109 yards out — though it's recognized by the NCAA as a 100-yard return — and Auburn pulls off the dizzying 34-28 upset, winning the 2013 Southeastern Conference Western Division title in the process.
My vantage point for arguably the most memorable moment in college football history was the Jordan Hare-Stadium press box, as I was gambling on this being the first Iron Bowl to require overtime. Instead, my objective instantly became getting from the press box to Alabama's locker room as soon as possible, because the Tigers were going to be out on the field celebrating a while before participating in their media obligations.
Chances of pulling this off were admittedly slim, but I hurried to the elevator and timed it perfectly, which was a huge plus. Once I exited the elevator, however, I still had to descend multiple rows of bleachers to enter the playing field at the opposite corner of where Nick Saban soon would be speaking.
With thousands of jubilant fans heading to the field as well, I opted to jump into one of the well-manicured floral arrangements that adorns each corner of Jordan-Hare. This enabled me to pass countless folks, and then I jumped from the flower area onto the field.
Once among the mayhem on the field, I said "excuse me" repeatedly as I headed toward the visiting locker room, and I entered Saban's news conference and somehow found a seat up close roughly five seconds before he walked in.
"First of all, this is a tremendous rivalry with great tradition with a lot of great fans," Saban said in opening the presser. "It was a great atmosphere and an opportunity for our team to play out there today. For the seniors that we have on our team, I feel really badly, because they've had a great career here."
When questions turned to the final play, Saban said, "Everybody is supposed to fan the field, and we covered one side, and that's why he went to the other. It's the first time I've lost a game that way, and it's the first time I've seen a game lost that way."
Alabama entered the 2013 Iron Bowl seeking to become the first program in college football history to win three consecutive national championships. The top-ranked Crimson Tide also entered with an 11-0 record and having thrashed their opponents by the average score of 41-9.
What impressed me tremendously about the "Kick Six" aftermath was how Alabama's media relations staff brought out junior tight end Brian Vogler, who didn't have any catches that day but had the first crack at Davis around Auburn's 20-yard line. Vogler got a hand on the shoulder of Davis, but that obviously wasn't nearly enough.
"We all knew they had a guy back there," Vogler said, "and we told each other to make sure we cover down after the kick. You practice it so many times, but when it happens, you're not expecting that kind of speed."
Minutes later in the home locker room, Davis had a more upbeat disposition when recalling the ending.
"I knew when I caught the ball that I would have room to run, and I knew we had bigger guys on the field to protect," he said. "When I was running, I said, 'I can't believe this.' When I looked back, I said, 'God is good.'"
A 99-yard touchdown pass from AJ McCarron to Amari Cooper with 10:28 remaining had given the Tide a 28-21 lead. Alabama could have put the game away with 2:32 left, but the Tigers blocked Cade Foster's 44-yard field-goal attempt and then pulled even with 32 seconds to play on a 39-yard scoring strike from Nick Marshall to Sammie Coates.
Auburn would dispel any thoughts of a letdown at the SEC title game by racing past Missouri 59-42 on the strength of Tre Mason's 304 rushing yards. The Tigers then came within 13 seconds of winning a second national title in four seasons, but Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and Seminoles receiver Kelvin Benjamin dashed Auburn's hopes of rebounding from the 3-9 debacle of 2012 with a BCS crown.
Had Auburn held off Florida State, the Iron Bowl winner would have advanced to claim five consecutive national championships.
Until the 2013 Iron Bowl, Auburn's most unlikely defeat of Alabama had long been the 17-16 "Punt Bama Punt" comeback of 1972. Former Auburn athletic director David Housel said the "Kick Six" changed that.
"We weren't supposed to be bad in '72," Housel said.
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