Special Teams

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By Dennis Clayton
The finish to the Alabama-Auburn game will go down in history as one of the most memorable and dramatic in history. Who would have thought when the Crimson Tide lined up for the field goal that the end result would be a 100-yard touchdown return for Auburn? (Actually Chris Davis caught the ball nine yards deep in the end zone, but the NCAA doesn’t count end-zone yardage) Davis commented, “I knew when I caught the ball I would have room to run.” How about 109 yards, Chris?
It was the end of a frustrating day for Alabama special teams, as they missed a total of four field goals. If only one of the previous three field goal attempts had been successful, this crazy finish would never have happened.
This was the second wild finish for Auburn. The Tigers had earlier defeated Georgia on a deflected 73-yard pass that was thrown on a wing and a prayer. The ball bounced off a Georgia player and over the shoulder and into the hands of Ricardo Louis to complete that cardiac comeback.
The 100-yard return by Davis on Saturday was only the fourth time in NCAA history that a missed field goal was returned 100 yards for a touchdown. LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. returned one against UAB last season. However the stakes were much higher in this game than LSU-UAB.
The return overshadowed a 99-yard touchdown pass from AJ McCarron to Amari Cooper, which ties another record, but it wasn’t enough on this day. Many people have since forgotten about that outstanding play which might have been the play of the game until the return by Davis.
If you haven’t seen the return by now, you must have been out of the country or absolutely detest sports, because it has been all over television and the social media. It will be remembered by the Alabama-Auburn faithful for generations.
Many times in previewing games, special teams get overlooked. We have seen over and over this season in high school and college, that special teams play can make or break you. I have watched many games from the sidelines and on TV and the outcome came down to special teams.
So in closing, no matter how good your quarterback, running back or defense may be, sometimes the outcome comes down to your special teams. That’s why it’s a team sport; it takes everyone doing their job to win the game.
Follow Dennis Clayton on Twitter: @denclayton

About Dennis Clayton

I cover high school sports in Union County and occasionally contribute sports articles to sister community newspapers of Journal Inc. Follow me on Twitter: @denclayton for scores and updates on our local high school teams.