GLENDALE, Ariz. » Auburn running back Michael Dyer never heard any whistle, so he just kept running — past the tackler who thought he had him down and deep into Oregon territory.
Dyer broke stride, then took off on a once-in-a-lifetime run in the final minutes, setting up a field goal on the last play that led No. 1 Auburn over the No. 2 Ducks 22-19 in the BCS championship game last night.
The freshman running back upstaged Auburn’s Heisman-winning quarterback Cam Newton with a 37-yard run, in which he appeared down but wasn’t — his knee never hit the ground — as he rolled over Oregon defender Eddie Pleasant to put the Tigers in scoring position.
Three plays later, Dyer ran 16 yards to push the ball inside the 1 and set up Wes Byrum’s 19-yard field goal with no time left. It was his sixth career game-winning field goal — the one that capped off a perfect, 14-0 season, brought the title back to Auburn for the first time since 1957 and left the Southeastern Conference on top for the fifth straight year.
"Fifty-three years, baby," coach Gene Chizik said to the cheering crowd. "This is for you. War Eagle!"
A classic sequence to close out a wild finish — 5 crazy minutes of football that made up for the first 55, which were more of a bruising battle than the offensive masterpiece everyone had predicted.
Oregon’s offense, shut down by Nick Fairley & Co. for most of the night, moved 45 yards over the next 2:17 and Darron Thomas threw a shovel pass to LaMichael James for a touchdown. Thomas hit Jeff Maehl for the tying 2-point conversion with 2:33 left and the game was down to one possession.
And that possession will be remembered for one incredible play.
Dyer took the handoff from Newton and ran off right tackle for what looked like a 6- or 7-yard gain. Nothing routine about this one, though. He never heard a whistle, wasn’t sure his knee hit the ground, so he popped up and kept going. Almost everyone on the field had stopped playing, but the referee never blew the play dead. Dyer made it to the Oregon 23. An official’s review ensued and the replay showed that, indeed, his knee had never touched the turf.
"I was going out there, trying to make a play. I just kept my feet moving," he said.
The freshman finished with 143 yards and was named Offensive Player of the Game — no small feat considering he had the Heisman Trophy winner, Newton, playing well on the same offense.
Newton threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 64 yards, most in short, punishing bites.
And the end of a memorable season for Auburn, the school that has loads of tradition — the Tiger Walk, the War Eagle yell and a case full of Heisman and other big-time individual trophies — but not nearly as many titles to go with it.
And it fashions a nice symmetry with that team up the road — Alabama — which took home the Heisman and the same crystal championship trophy one short year ago.
Tide fans, of course, will remind you that it still has five more AP titles than the Tigers. But this celebration is going on at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn, where the traditional toilet-papering of the area was going on in full force in the bitter cold as Monday night turned into Tuesday morning.
"Winning a championship for the Auburn family, I can’t really describe it right now," Chizik said. "To try would probably cheapen it."
At Auburn, the words "War Eagle" would almost surely suffice.