Auburn announcer still stunned over legendary calls

“Here’s your ballgame folks as Flutie takes the snap, has some time. Now he scrambles away from one hit. He looks, uncorks a deep one for the end zone. Phelan is down there. Oh, he got it! Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown Boston College! He did it! He did it! Flutie did it!” – Dan Davis calling the last-second Boston College victory over Miami on Nov. 23, 1984

Most broadcasters go their entire careers without making one historic call. 

Oh, sure, they each have their moments, but few have those seconds that live in the memories of fans forever.

Legendary calls are not seared in the collective memories of football fans because of the words. Let’s face it, “Touchdown, touchdown, touchdown,” isn’t exactly Shakespearean. What makes the likes of the Flutie or Cal-Stanford calls indelible is the genuine surprise and unbridled joy conveyed in those moments.

Like children on Christmas morning, the announcers are sharing the purest of emotions. 

Now, there are a couple of new ones to add to the canon, both coming from announcer Rod Bramblett and, to the shock and surprise of everyone (including Bramblett), both occurring in consecutive games. The first came in the waning seconds of the Georgia-Auburn game on Nov. 16:

“All right, here we go: fourth-and-18 for the Tigers. Here’s your ballgame. Nick Marshall stands in, steps up, gonna throw downfield, just a home-run ball that . . . is tipped up! And Louis got it on the deflection! Louis is gonna score! Louis is gonna score! Touchdown Auburn! Touchdown Auburn! A miracle at Jordan-Hare! A miracle at Jordan-Hare!”

Had Auburn’s season ended that night — had the Tigers not won another game — Bramblett’s call would have been one of the most memorable and replayed in school history, an emotional high point for a team that had come farther in one year than anyone predicted a few months ago. 

But it didn’t end there. 

Two weeks later, in the biggest college football game of the year — a heated rivalry game pitting No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Auburn  — Bramblett got to witness and call another play, one that would end up making “The Immaculate Deflection” call seem almost trite.  

Tied at 28-28 with one second remaining in the Iron Bowl, Alabama coach Nick Saban chose to go for what was officially scored a 57-yard field goal while Auburn coach Gus Malzahn snuck his best return man, Chris Davis, into the end zone in case the Alabama kicker didn’t have enough leg to get the ball out of play.

The result was magic.  

“Here we go: a 56-yarder. It’s up and . . . no, does not have the leg. Chris Davis takes it in the back of the end zone. He’ll run it out to the 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 45. There goes Davis! Davis is going to run it all the way back! Auburn’s going to win the football game! Auburn is gonna win the football game! He ran it back 109 yards! They’re not going to keep them off the field tonight! Holy cow! Oh my God! Auburn wins! Auburn has won the Iron Bowl! Auburn has won the Iron Bowl in the most unbelievable fashion you will ever see! I cannot believe it! Oh my Lord in Heaven! Chris Davis just ran it 109 yards and Auburn is going to the Championship Game!”

Three days later Bramblett still couldn’t believe what he’d seen.

“I’ve been doing play-by-play for going on 25 years, and to have these two plays back-to-back is absolutely amazing,” Bramblett said from his home in Auburn. “I was convinced that there was no way that the Iron Bowl could live up to the hype. It was just too much. But wow, it was a great game and then the finish not only lived up the hype but surpassed it by a long shot. 

“The play at the end wasn’t a miracle, and it wasn’t a lucky play. It was just one coach outcoaching the other one and a player making a play. But it was certainly improbable . . . not something you would ever see in college football.”

Bramblett’s point has been echoed many times in the days since Auburn’s victory. Davis is, indeed, the Tiger’s speediest returner while the field goal team for Alabama is primarily made up of blockers. There were not enough athletes on the field for the Crimson Tide to run Davis down once he made a cut and found a seam on the sideline.  

“When I go back and listen to (the call), you don’t get the full picture of what was going on the booth,” Bramblett said. “I was getting mugged by the other guys up there. There were people hugging and high fives everywhere. The booth erupted like almost everything else in the stands.

“We were all like, ‘Oh my God, what have we just witnessed?’ Then it sank in that, ‘Holy smokes, you just won the Iron Bowl, the SEC West and you have a chance to play for an SEC Championship and maybe something more.’ It was like time stood still. But then all those emotions flooded through in a matter of seconds and it was just pure joy. I think that came through.”  

No one would argue that point and no one doubts that Bramblett’s words will be replayed in Jordan-Hare Stadium for as long as Auburn plays football. 

“It’s weird to wrap your mind around it,” he said. “I’m honored to be getting all the attention. A lot of people put in a lot of hard work to make sure these broadcasts go off without a hitch and I’m just lucky to be doing a job that I love for my school. I’m living a dream. And then to have this happen, words just can’t describe it.”  

That’s OK Rod, your words have been descriptive enough already.