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Top Five Plays: Individual moments that dazzled Auburn fans in 2015

Michael Niziolek

mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Melvin Ray (82) catches the game-tying touchdown in regulation. Jacksonville State vs Auburn in Auburn, Ala. on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015.Zach Bland/Auburn Athletics
Melvin Ray (82) catches the game-tying touchdown in regulation. Jacksonville State vs Auburn in Auburn, Ala. on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015.Zach Bland/Auburn Athletics

Auburn’s offense didn’t produce the number of razzle-dazzle plays it did the previous two seasons under offensive guru Gus Malzahn. It made the highlights the group did produce stand out even more.

Here is a look at Auburn’s top five most memorable plays from the 2015…

5. Offensive MVP Kevin Phillips? (tie) — Auburn had issues deploying its staple of trick plays this season, but that wasn’t the case on special teams late in the year with punter Kevin Phillips successfully converting a pair of fakes.

Phillips moved the chains with a 24-yard run in the first quarter against Idaho. The junior college transfer could have stepped out of bounds without any contact, but fought for extra yardage by lowering his shoulder into a defender.

“I had my eyes on the prize,” Phillips said.

Auburn would go on to score a touchdown on the drive to take a 14-7 lead.

In the Birmingham Bowl, Phillips hit Kerryon Johnson on a 37-yard pass on Auburn’s opening possession. The drive also ended in points, a 20-yard field goal, to give the team a 3-0 lead over Memphis.

4. Justin Garrett’s scoop and score — Auburn’s defense played a major role in securing a season-opening win over Louisville. The key play was Justin Garrett’s exciting 82-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the first quarter.

Montravius Adams caused the fumble by jumping into the backfield right after the Cardinals snapped the ball.

Garrett was right in position to pick up the fumble and take it to the house for the longest fumble return for a touchdown in program history.

“I thought somebody had scooped it up and I just saw the ball pop out,” Garrett said. “Montravius came in there and disrupted everything and forced a fumble, and I just saw the ball pop out and picked it up and ran back for a touchdown.”

3. Melvin Ray for the win — Melvin Ray helped Auburn avoid a monumental upset against Jacksonville State with his best catch of the season. Ray caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Jeremy Johnson in the back corner of the end zone to tie the game 20-20 with 40 seconds left on the clock.

Ray made the leaping grab above a defender and still managed to get both his feet in bounds.

“This is my senior season, I just have to take every opportunity I can and make the best of it,” Ray said. “I don’t want to come off the field if I don’t have to. As long as I can play, I will. This is my last go-around.”

2. World Class Hurdler — Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson turned a 19-yard run into something worth talking about when he hurdled an Arkansas defender at the end of the play.

U.S. Olympian Lolo Jones, the American record-holder in the 60-meter hurdles, even commented on social media about the freshman’s form. 

“Superb! Kerryon Johnson. Prime lead leg. Trail leg snaps down. Would've gave A+ but he didn't run much off hurdle. A-“ Jones tweeted.

Johnson drew a flag as a senior in high school for the same play.

“This time I didn’t get flagged for it, so that was a great thing,” Johnson said. “It’s just something I’ve been working on for years."

1. Prayer at Jordan-Hare 2.0 — Who better to judge Jason Smith’s version of the Prayer at Jordan-Hare than the originator? Ricardo Louis admitted his teammates 77-yard touchdown catch from Jeremy Johnson against Alabama was a better play.

“As soon as I happen that’s what was I thinking about, it’s 2.0,” Louis said with a smile. “He just made a good play. His was probably better than mine. Good focus and he did a good job reeling it in for the touchdown.”

Smith tipped the unlikely catch to himself not once but twice. Adding to the degree of difficulty on the play was a pair of defenders in coverage.

“As I was running I was like man no way," Smith said. "I couldn’t hear anything at first, until I got into the end zone."

Michael Niziolek covers Auburn football for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Email him at mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com or follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+

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