MONTGOMERY — Anders Carlson fell backwards after taking a blow from Alabama corner Trevon Diggs late in the first half, and as he hit the ground he watched the ball he just kicked soar through the beginnings of the evening sky.
As the ball carried, a collective gasp forced the crowd at Jordan-Hare to hold whatever breath they had, and 52 yards later Carlson's and-one moment was complete. He hit the field goal and got the flag for roughing the kicker, which became moot, as time expired in the first half.
"And one," Carlson said.
At the half, Alabama led 31-27, but Carlson's kick kept Auburn within reach and gave the Tigers a swing of momentum that would last the rest of the evening and ultimately give them a three-point edge and a 48-45 victory over the Crimson Tide.
"What ended up being the difference in the game was the field goal right there, right before halftime with one second left," Gus Malzahn said post game.
Carlson shouldn't have gotten to attempt some would say. Others would say that the performance he put on Saturday afternoon shouldn't have happened either but it did.
Just before Carlson and company lined up to kick from the Auburn 34-yard line, running back Boobee Whitlow slipped out of the backfield on the receiving end of a screen pass from quarterback Bo Nix and picked up 17 yards as time expired, so it looked.
But as half of Alabama's team and staff jogged off the field and into the tunnel, whistles blew calling them back as Auburn ran out the field goal unit to set up for a last-ditch kick. Carlson had his unit ready for the unexpected.
“I just noticed the situation: no timeouts," Carlson said. "I told my holder and snapper, ‘Get ready for whistle kick.’"
The officials reviewed the previous play involving Whitlow and ruled that there was one second remaining, despite the disdain of coach Nick Saban and company. it gave Carlson the chance to write his name into Iron Bowl history.
"It happened the way it did," Carlson continued. "The whole field goal unit was ready, and we ran out there, and I don’t know what happened, a timeout or flag or whatever, but turned out that we had some time just to talk through it, as well, and once that whistle was blown we snapped and did what we did.
“I mean that’s something we practice so much...We were ready for it, and I’m glad we got a chance."
It's the second occasion where one second was placed back on the clock for Auburn in an Iron Bowl, the first dating back to 2013 — otherwise known as the "Kick Six" year.
In that game, all knotted at 28 with less than minute to play, Alabama running back TJ Yeldon scampered around the left side of the Tigers defense for 24-yard gain, running out of bounds around the Auburn 38 as time seemed to expire.
Officials took the final play to review and added a single second to the game clock. What ensued was history, just like Satruday: Nick Saban sent out backup kicker Adam Griffith to attempt a field goal that would prevent overtime.
Standing in the back of the end zone, in the event that the kick would fall short, was Auburn's Chris Davis. And we all know how the story ends: the kick fell short, Davis took it out of the end zone running to the left side of the Alabama field unit went 100-plus yards to win the game and etch his own name into the history books.
“In a game like that, obviously each second, each minute is important," Nix said of Carlson's last-second kick. "Those just happened to go in our favor.
"Our special teams did a great job of knowing the situation and getting the job done, because obviously when you have 1 second, that goes back to coaching and goes back to practicing and being prepared for the moment.”
it hadn't been a great season for Carlson until the Iron Bowl.
Carlson had only made three of his last eight kicks in the past three games. He struggled beyond 40 yards more specifically, missing every attempt he had beyond 40 in that span and struggled to find a groove.
So, it wasn't automatic that Carlson would come through in the clutch. But on the biggest stage, and arguably the biggest game of his life to this point, Carlson was perfect — 4-for-4, all of his kicks coming from beyond 40. There was even a 54-yarder he hit that was waved off because of an illegal substitution called on Alabama that Auburn accepted to get another shot at the end zone.
Point is he was money. And though he's struggled before, and he says he only "played a small part in this game," he was ultimately the difference Saturday night.
“I’ve always been the same," Carlson said. "I’m confident in what I do and sometimes it doesn’t go your way, but that’s the lesson you have to learn, just to bounce back and keep going. I locked in today and that’s good it paid off, but I’m going to keep doing the same stuff.”
One second, Three points, one win. What more can be said?
"He had a big-time night," Malzahn said. "We talked all year, 'Man, you're going to win a game for us, and tonight he did that. He's an excellent kicker that will give him a lot of confidence moving forward, but very proud of him and our field goal unit."