- Punt Bama Punt
Punt Bama Punt is the nickname given to one of the most famous [cite web|url=http://espn.go.com/endofcentury/s/other/bestrivalries.html |title=The 10 greatest rivalries |publisher=ESPN |date=1999-12-21 |accessdate=2007-07-17] games of the
college footballrivalry between the Auburn Tigersand the Alabama Crimson Tideknown as the Iron Bowl.
The game was played on
December 2, 1972 at Legion Fieldin Birmingham, Alabama. The #2-ranked and undefeated (10-0) Alabama team led by head coach Bear Bryantcame into the game as a 16-point favorite over the Shug Jordan-coached Tigers, who entered the game with a record of 8-1. For the first three and a half quarters the Tide seemed to have the game well in hand.
Alabama led 16-0 with ten minutes left in the game. With less than 10 minutes remaining, an Auburn drive stalled and managed only a field goal, which made the score 16-3. Reportedly, Jordan's decision resulted in boos from both sides of the crowd: Auburn fans for the appearance of giving up, and Alabama fans because it ruined the
point spread. On the ensuing possession Alabama was forced to punt. Auburn's Bill Newton blocked Greg Gantt's punt and his teammate David Langner ran the ball back 25 yards for an Auburn touchdown, narrowing the score to 16-10. Several minutes later, Alabama was forced to punt again and once again Newton blocked the punt and Langner again returned it for a touchdown. Gardner Jett kicked the extra point and Auburn won the game 17-16.
With a few minutes to play in the game, Auburn's David Langner intercepted an Alabama pass to stop a come back. As he went over to the sideline, Coach Shug Jordan was upset with him. Langner said, "But, coach, I intercepted the pass," to which Coach Jordan said, "Yeah, but our plan was to make them punt."
In June 2007, Punt Bama Punt was ranked #55 by ESPN.com in its list of the 100 defining moments of college football. [cite web |url=http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=maisel_ivan&id=2915514#http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=maisel_ivan&id=2915514# |title=Iconic moments for college football's time capsule |author=Maisel, Ivan |publisher=ESPN.com |date=2007-06-25 |accessdate=2007-07-02] In July 2007, CollegeFootballNews.com ranked the game #85 on its list of the 100 Greatest Finishes. [cite web |url=http://cfn.scout.com/2/654773.html |title=100 Greatest Finishes - No. 81 to 90 |author=Fiutak, Pete |publisher=CollegeFootballNews.com |date=2007-07-09 |accessdate=2007-07-17]
Gary Sanders was the radio play-by-play announcer for Auburn football in the early 1970's, and his call of the blocked punts, particularly the last one, is familiar to many Auburn fans and has been available on several audio tapes and CD's sold in Auburn University bookstores through the years. The call of the first blocked punt was rather subdued, possibly because Alabama had dominated the game to that point. The call went as follows:
The call of the second blocked punt is heard more often, and was delivered with much more enthusiasm from Sanders. Additionally, others in the broadcast booth and press box can be heard screaming and yelling over Sanders call. It should be noted that Sanders, possibly due to being caught up in the moment, identified Roger Mitchell as the player who blocked the kick, when Bill Newton (who had blocked the first one) actually blocked it:
cquote|"Greg Gantt standing on his own 30, Auburn will try to block it. Auburn going after it, here's the good snap...it is blocked!!! It is blocked!!! It's caught on the run!!! It's caught on the run and he's gonna score!!! David Langner!!! David Langner has scored and Auburn has tied the game!!! Roger Mitchell blocked the kick! And it's 16 to 16!"
"War Eagle:A Story of Auburn Football," by Clyde Bolton; copyright 1973 by Clyde Bolton and published by the The Strode Publishers, Huntsville, Alabama
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