Alabama football: Memories of 2013 'Kick Six' still haunts Tide players
TUSCALOOSA -- Ryan Kelly remembers the heartbreak he felt as he watched Auburn's Chris Davis race from one end zone to the other on the final play of the 2013 Iron Bowl.
|NCAA FOOTBALL ON SOCIAL MEDIA|
JOIN THE TEAM.
As Auburn fans flooded Pat Dye Field by the thousands, the dazed then-sophomore center made his way to the visitors' locker room beneath the Jordan-Hare Stadium stands.
"It was kind of a blur after the end of it. ... I just kind of walked off the field," Kelly said Monday. "That's all I want to talk about it. It wasn't a great feeling. A lot of guys on this team were there then. You definitely don't forget something like that."
The game ended on a single play -- the "Kick Six" -- that will live in infamy (or glory) for both its sensationalism and improbability after Davis fielded a short 57-yard field goal try a foot inside the back of the end zone and returned it 109 yards down the home sideline for the game-winning score as the Tigers knocked off the top-ranked Tide, 34-28, at Jordan Hare Stadium.
Auburn would go on to win the SEC championship and come within 13 seconds of winning the national championship.
Meanwhile, Alabama -- which won back-to-back national titles in 2011-12 -- would suffer a hangover loss to Oklahoma in the 2014 Sugar Bowl.
The Iron Bowl traditionally has national implications, and it's no different this season with the second-ranked Tide needing to win Saturday to secure the SEC West title and a trip to the SEC championship game in Atlanta.
"I don't think I have to tell anybody anything they don't already know about this game. The Iron Bowl is one of the great rivalries in college football," coach Nick Saban said Monday. "It means a lot to a lot of people in this state as well as all over the country. It's certainly an opportunity you appreciate as a competitor."
Even after delivering a 55-44 thumping last season at Bryant-Denny Stadium, there are some unresolved feelings regarding the game two years ago.
"I know I remember being on the sideline, me and Landon (Collins) beside each other and just watching (Davis) run down the field," senior linebacker Reggie Ragland said. "You just drop your helmet and just walk off the field in disbelief, and you're sad."
But, for many of the now-seniors who watched the veterans on that 2013 team come up short after back-to-back national championships, the disappointment felt that day is still fresh.
"(I remember the) look in the eyes of some of the seniors and you see them crying in the locker room and stuff like that," Ragland said. "That hurts your feelings, knowing you didn't do your job enough to get the win for them. So we gotta come out and we gotta do our job and gotta try to get this win."
Senior quarterback Jake Coker remembers watching the 2013 Iron Bowl with his family in Mobile while recovering from knee surgery earlier that month while still playing at Florida State.
"I couldn't believe it happened. ... (Of course) it is what it is, it's over now," Coker said Saturday aftera 56-6 win over Charleston Southern. "At that point, the recruiting process, all that (with Alabama) hadn't started, so I was just kind of more in awe (of the play) than anything."
Still, there are many around the Alabama program who prefer to focus on what's ahead Saturday, rather than look behind.
"I don't really think about it that much. Of course, it kind of gets brought up, and you start to think about it more around the time we're starting to prepare for Auburn," senior cornerback Cyrus Jones said. "Obviously, we know it happened, but it's in the past and I don't think that's going to be on our minds that much when we roll into Jordan-Hare on Saturday."
While some aren't interested in rehashing the past this week, the way Alabama's last trip to Auburn ended lingers.
"It does, but it's not going to fuel how we play," Kelly said. "We're going to have to go down there and execute. They are a really good team."
Related: Top sights and sounds from Week 12
This article was written by Alex Byington from The Decatur Daily, Ala. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.