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BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Auburn's Chris Davis is in the middle of another big play

This time, however, the cornerback is called for pass interference, setting up Florida State's winning touchdown moments later in Bowl Championship Series title game.

January 06, 2014|By Gary Klein
  • Auburn cornerback Chris Davis makes contact with Florida State receiver Rashad Greene in the end zone on a third-and-goal play in the final minute of the BCS title game, drawing an interference penalty.
Auburn cornerback Chris Davis makes contact with Florida State receiver… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

In a season that featured several miraculous finishes, no Auburn player played a bigger role than Chris Davis.

On Nov. 30, the senior cornerback kept a dream season alive by returning an Alabama field-goal attempt 109 yards for a touchdown, a play that will go down as one of the greatest in college football history.

Davis was prominent again Monday night in the Bowl Championship Series title game at the Rose Bowl, but there were no miracle finishes for the Tigers.

Florida State defeated Auburn, 34-31, the Seminoles taking advantage of a pass interference call against Davis before receiver Kelvin Benjamin caught a game-winning touchdown with Davis draped on him in coverage.

SUMMARY: Florida State 34, Auburn 31

"Good throw, good defense and good catch," Davis said.

Auburn's much maligned secondary had kept Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, the Heisman Trophy winner, mostly in check on the way to a 21-10 halftime lead. It was the first time this season that Winston did not throw a touchdown pass in the first half.

"He didn't have clear lanes to throw the ball," Davis said. "Every time he turned around, somebody was in his face and that was the game plan."

Davis helped the Tigers build a lead with a 22-yard punt return in the first quarter that set up a Tre Mason touchdown run for a 7-3 lead.

"I'm always looking to take the ball to the house," Davis said. "I had good blocks down the field and just tried to take advantage of the opportunity."

Auburn had taken a 31-27 lead on a touchdown run by Mason with 1 minute 19 seconds to play.

The Seminoles moved into scoring position when receiver Rashad Greene caught a pass and raced 49 yards to the Auburn 23.

Four plays later, on third and eight at the 10, Winston's pass to Greene fell incomplete. But Davis was flagged for pass interference.

"I don't think it was pass interference," Davis said. "I thought it was great defense."

So did Tigers defensive back Robenson Therezie.

"It was no holding, it was just a good play," Therezie said. "[Greene] was asking for a penalty the whole game and they gave it to him on the last drive."

With a first down at the two-yard line, Winston saw 6-foot-5 receiver Benjamin matched up against the 5-11 Davis.

"Anytime you see KB one on one, it's a dream come true," Winston said.

Winston passed to Benjamin, who came down with the ball for the go-ahead points.

"He got inside," Davis said, adding, "I was all over him and he made a good catch. My hat goes off to him."

With Auburn trailing, 34-31, Auburn and Davis had one more chance for another dramatic finish.

"I hoped something crazy would have happened," Davis said.

Davis caught the kickoff in the end zone and ran it out 17 yards. But this time, he wasn't matched up against Alabama offensive linemen. Florida State tackled him with nine seconds remaining, and the Seminoles held on for the victory that ended the Southeastern Conference's run of seven consecutive BCS titles.

Davis was a freshman on Auburn's 2010 BCS championship team, but he suffered an injury on the opening kickoff of the title game against Oregon.

This time, he played to the finish but came up short.

"It's been a great season all year, especially from the turnaround from 3-9," Davis said. "We stayed together and we're going to continue to stay together.

"As seniors, we tried to end our careers with a national championship but that didn't happen."

gary.klein@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesklein

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