AUBURN, Ala. – Alabama stood at the 31-yard-line of Jordan-Hare Stadium with one foot in the grave.
Just moments earlier, the ball had bound past Jalen Milroe’s feet on a bad snap, forcing the once-doubted quarterback into the most daunting of circumstances.
Fourth down. 31 yards. Touchdown required.
Milroe and the Crimson Tide had faced challenges all year long. An early loss turned doubters into haters. A near disaster in South Florida could’ve put Tuscaloosa into panic mode. It looked like Rocky Top would send Alabama tumbling down the rankings. But they’d yet to face something quite like the black magic of Jordan-Hare.
Now, faced with a nightmare scenario, Alabama had just one final chance. One moment, a glimmer of the light from the pit. Dirt was piled on, and you could almost hear the pundits picking up a final shovel’s worth of soil to throw on top.
But Alabama decided to write their own legacy on Saturday night.
Milroe reached his arm through the metaphorical grave and heaved a last-ditch effort to Isaiah Bond. The ball sailed through the air, carrying with it Alabama’s hopes of reaching the pinnacle.
Bond grabbed on tight to that lifeline and never let go. Out of the grave Alabama arose, managing to turn the tide and kick the Tigers into the pit of despair in the process.
After the game, Bond was of course asked about the game-winning play, which Nick Saban claimed the team had run in practice just the day before. Among a myriad of other questions, he smiled when asked about its name.
Saban sat down in the visitor’s conference room at Jordan-Hare, likely just as stunned as anyone who watched the game – even though he’d never admit it.
“Do I really need to say anything?”
“The offense put some drives together, and we overcame adversity. You know – bad snap when we had an opportunity to score and then we make a great play,” Saban said.
A historic night
Alabama’s 27-24 victory over the Auburn Tigers will be remembered many years from now for its finish, but it was also a historic night for two of the team’s most pivotal players.
Kicker Will Reichard became the all-time leading scorer in college football history, tying Keenan Reynolds at 530 career points. He accounted for nine points on the night, including the PAT on the game-winning touchdown.
Milroe also became the first quarterback since 2015 (Jake Coker) for the Crimson Tide to exit Jordan-Hare without a turnover. He finished the night with 259 yards through the air for two touchdowns and added 107 on the ground.
Alabama will head to Atlanta to take on the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship on Dec. 2. The game will air on CBS at 3 p.m. CT.
Nicholas Pursley is the sports director for WVUA-FM. He primarily covers the Alabama football team. You can follow him on X @nicholaspursley.