In case you didn’t hear, the National Championship took place last weekend. The National “Mall” Championship, that is. This first ever flag football game between AU alumni and Oregon alumni in Washington, D.C. is recapped here by David Binet from our Metro Washington Auburn Club. A gallery of photos from the game is also available on our Flickr site.
On January 2, the Metro Washington Auburn Club played the DC Ducks to a 14-14 tie underneath the Washington Monument on the National Mall. The rain held off long enough to see a back-and-forth game and a last-second Auburn touchdown and two-point conversion to knot the score.
A large contingent of Auburn alumni in the Washington area attended the game, including one guy that dressed up as the Heisman Trophy with a Cam Newton jersey. Regardless of the weather, the atmosphere was definitely festive. The Auburn group easily outnumbered the Oregon group, but both squads did not lack for passion and intensity.
“It was more intense than I thought it would be,” said Montine Mansell, a Roswell, GA native and 2004 alumna. “Both teams and spectators were as focused as I imagine we will be in Glendale. Everyone wanted to take home that trophy.” Cindy Kirk (2007, Mobile, AL) agreed. “Amazing atmosphere with great player and fan turnout. The competition was intense but lots of fun. The Cam Heisman ‘come to life’ made the day!”
Adam Chambliss, a 2005 graduate from Ft. Payne, felt great to be an Auburn Tiger. “Really proud of how hard the team played. Despite the Oregon weather, it was an Auburn atmosphere. Great fan support from family and friends, and even the Heisman Trophy showed up!”
Things didn’t start out well for the Tigers. On the second play of the game, Oregon picked off a deflected pass that led to the first score of the game. On Auburn’s next possession, a deep pass to Montgomery native Buddy Huntley (2002) was intercepted again by Oregon. This time, though, the Auburn defense got the ball right back on an interception of their own.
On the next series, 1998 graduate Jonathon Binet (Daphne, AL) took a quick hitch pass, made a move around the Oregon defender, and raced towards the end zone. Near the goal line, Binet lost control of the ball as he attempted to reach over the goal plane. The ball tumbled out of the end zone, and the referees ruled it a touchback.
Despite the unfortunate bounce, Binet relished the experience. “I thought both schools displayed class and sportsmanship, and I know playing this game helped me burn off some anxiety I have for the real BCS Championship game.”
Auburn managed a score before halftime, and the score stood 7-6 at intermission.
Oregon took possession to begin the second half, and scored their second touchdown of the game. The lead now stood 14-6 for the Ducks. Two consecutive near misses for Auburn retained the lead for Oregon, but it also burned a large portion of the game clock.
With only two plays remaining in the game, Auburn faced fourth down in Oregon territory. Christine Kessler, a 1998 graduate from Birmingham, watched nervously from the sidelines. “Some of us were wringing our hands. You have seen teams pull off some last-minute comebacks before so you know it’s possible, but when it comes down to your team and that moment, it is so nerve-wracking!”
Daphne native and 1999 graduate David Binet tossed a long pass to a leaping Huntley in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown. The two-point conversion got more difficult after an Auburn penalty, but 2002 graduate Jeff Cline (Centreville, VA) hauled in a pass to tie the score.
The last play of the game saw Oregon try a desperation flea-flicker, but Auburn did not let it get far. Unfortunately, David Bules (2004, Canton, OH) went down on the play. As the Oregon receiver ran past him, Bules went to grab the flag and collided with the runner. He lay motionless on the ground. An ambulance took him to George Washington Hospital. Bules had feeling in all his extremities and gave a thumbs-up as he left the field. He had surgery on Monday to relieve pressure on his vertabrae from two bulging discs. The great news is that the surgery was a success, and Bules plans to leave the hospital on Tuesday. Say a prayer, light a candle, send him a “War Eagle” telegram, anything, just keep sending positive thoughts and energy to our injured teammate. He flew in from Cincinnati on Saturday just for this game, which speaks to his connection to Auburn and the alumni in Washington DC.
After Bules was taken to the hospital, both teams agreed to end the game and not play overtime. In the end, it was a fitting conclusion to a game where both teams exhibited passion and pride for their schools. We will just have to wait to Cam Newton and Nick Fairley to help decide which school is better.