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December 4, 2013

Marshall returns to the Dome


AUBURN | Nick Marshall has been there before.

Not the SEC Championship, but the venue in which it will be played.

In 2009, Marshall led Wilcox County High School to the 1A state title inside the Georgia Dome. It's the only championship the school has ever won - and he did it in thrilling fashion.

Wilcox County trailed Savannah Christian 21-14 in the fourth quarter when Marshall scored on a 5-yard touchdown run. The score was 21-20. Marshall then converted the two-point conversion, giving Wilcox County the 22-21 lead.

Marshall tacked on another touchdown pass and two-point conversion before the game ended, giving Wilcox County a 30-21 victory.

"We were down the whole game. He led us back and we took the lead, stopped them, and then scored another touchdown. He brought us back," Wilcox County coach Mark Ledford told AuburnSports.com.

"We played five playoff games, in four of the five we were losing in the fourth quarter and he made plays to bring us back."

Marshall's flare for the dramatic became expected during his prep days and has become the norm on the Plains this season. Auburn, led by Marshall, has made fourth quarter comebacks against Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama.

"I just stay calm and just keep doing what Coach tells me to do, just don't get too rattled, just be cool, calm and collected, and everything else will fall into place," Marshall said of his late-game heroics.

Ledford, along with other Wilcox County faculty members, have attended every Auburn home game to support Marshall. When Marshall was dismissed from Georgia and journeyed to Garden City Community College in Kansas, Marshall's inner circle shrunk. He learned who his real supporters were.

That's why when family, friends and acquaintances come asking Marshall for tickets this week, he isn't worried. Marshall values loyalty and knows exactly who he wants inside the Dome cheering him on.

"I'm just going to get the same people that have been coming," he said. "I'm not too much worried about that people keep asking me for tickets."

Ledford is among those genuine supporters.

"It's been something special watching him for our community," Ledford said. "The folks that coached him that have watched him play, he's had someone there to support him at every home game. With what's happening with the program and your guy from little Wilcox County is making things happen."

Making things happen indeed.

Auburn is ranked No. 3 in the AP, Coaches and BCS rankings as they prepare to play No. 5 Missouri for the SEC Championship in Atlanta, Ga. on Saturday. Marshall's last experience inside the Georgia Dome saw him account for nearly all of Wilcox County's 400 total yards.

Ledford expects more of the same the second time around.

"The coaching staff has him focused," Ledford said. "I look for Nick coming back home, he's comfortable playing in the Dome -- he hasn't played his best game yet and I wouldn't be surprised if Saturday doesn't turn out to be his best, knowing Nick."

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