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Mason, Marshall can't deliver another Auburn win

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 7, 2014 at 1:07 am •  Published: January 7, 2014
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PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Tre Mason and Nick Marshall delivered everything but the national title.

Auburn's potent 1-2 backfield punch came through in the clutch again Monday night, but this time it wasn't enough to prevent a 34-31 loss to No. 1 Florida State in the BCS championship game.

Mason's 37-yard touchdown run with 1:19 left gave the second-ranked Tigers (12-2) a lead that Jameis Winston & Co. wiped out with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds remaining.

A defense that had mostly held firm in big moments couldn't stop the Heisman Trophy winner and his high-powered offense at the end. That left Mason with an empty feeling after Auburn failed to bring home the title for its fans.

"I feel like I let them down," said Mason, a Heisman finalist who ran 34 times for 195 yards in his sixth straight 100-yard game.

He pinballed off defensive back Jalen Ramsey downfield for his 23rd rushing touchdown of the season and helped the Tigers become the first SEC team to lead the nation in rushing. They fell seconds short of the state of Alabama's fifth straight national crown and the SEC's eighth in a row.

Mason, who said he would speak with family before deciding whether to leave Auburn early and enter the NFL draft, broke Bo Jackson's school record of 1,786 yards rushing set during his 1985 Heisman season. Mason finished with 1,816 yards.

"It would be a lot better if I was holding up that crystal ball," he said.

The Southeastern Conference's leading rusher did come up huge on another big stage. He helped power the Tigers into the game with 46 carries for 304 yards against Missouri to capture the SEC championship and gained 164 yards against rival Alabama.

Those two performances propelled him to New York for the Heisman ceremony, where he finished sixth.

Mason and Marshall were integral parts of a season that matched the biggest turnaround in college football history after a 3-9 debacle in 2012.

Marshall threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns with an interception Monday night. He also ran for 45 yards and a third score, but found little running room.

"That's the way teams are going to play us. They have to pick one of us to stop," Mason said. "He's very dangerous on his feet. I guess they chose to stop him."

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