When PAT Kicks Aren't A Snap To Execute

Little known senior Sam Rives found himself in the spotlight at the end of Auburn's exciting football victory over LSU.

Auburn, Ala.--Senior holder Sam Rives was named Auburn's co-special teams player of the week after he dealt with bad snaps on Auburn's two extra-point attempts late in the game against LSU and a high snap on a successful field goal.

Auburn receiver Courtney Taylor caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Jason Campbell with 1:14 remaining in the contest to tie the score at 9-9. Although Auburn has a streak of 191 consecutive made extra points, the one that mattered the most didn't come easy.

"The first attempt bounced about two yards in front of me," Rives says. "It came straight back, but it bounced two yards in front of me. It started coming in end over end, but fortunately I caught it smoothly.

"John (Kicker John Vaughn) said he didn't really know what I was going to do," Rives adds "Last week we had a bad snap and I took it around end against Mississippi State. He said he didn't know if I was going to try to do that this time, but I caught it smoothly and I put it down."

Even though Rives was able to get the snap down, the timing had already been thrown off and Vaughn hooked the extra point wide left. Fortunately for Auburn, LSU was called for a personal foul on the play for jumping over the pile and landing on an opposing player. Rives and Vaughn had a second chance to take the lead.

"The second snap was also low, on my back side," Rives remembers. "I had to twist around and it was on the ground when it got to me, but I got that one pretty smoothly, too. I got it around and John got enough on it to get it in."

After Auburn took a 10-9 lead, the defense stood tall as senior strong safety Junior Rosegreen intercepted a JaMarcus Russell pass to ice the win.

"I wasn't personally responsible (for winning the game), but fortunately I made a great play," Rives says. "Pete (Snapper Pete Compton)…I don't know what happened. The snapper just had a couple of bad snaps. I don't know if it just got in his head, but we're going to work on that and get the kinks out."

Rives scored a two-point conversion at Mississippi State.

The bad snaps against LSU weren't the first that Rives has had to deal with this season. In Auburn's 43-14 win at Mississippi State, Rives scored on a two-point conversion after not being able to get the snap down in time for Vaughn.

"That was definitely not something I had thought of or planned to do," Rives says of his pump fake which allowed him to score on the play. "When we practice it, it's a lot more slow paced and the receivers are already on their routes by the time I'm ready to throw it. It happened so fast in the game that I got out, and none of the guys had even gotten off the line yet. I knew it was just me and that one guy and I had to do something to keep him from tackling me so I gave him and pump fake, and fortunately got him off his feet."

Rives played from 1997-99 at Pelham High School, where he played with former Alabama quarterback Tyler Watts and current Ole Miss receiver Bill Flowers, a good friend of his. Rives walked on at Auburn as a receiver in the fall of 2000 and took over the holding duties this season when Justin Fetsko graduated.

"I held in high school, and since my third year (at Auburn) I've been working with the kickers some," Rives notes. "I became good friends with Damon Duval and Philip Yost so I started helping them out in the summer when didn't have anyone else to come out there and hold. I started doing that and it just worked its way out to where I was going to be the holder this year."

Auburn entered the 2004 campaign with a streak of 181 straight extra points made. The SEC record of 199 set by Alabama in the 1980s is within reach. "It's in the back of your head, but you just try to block all of that out," Rives says. "Once you get out on the field, especially in a game like LSU, you don't really think about it.

"I told my buddies that if I could get through the year without anybody knowing my name, that means I did my job and we wouldn't have any problems. But it's worked out a little differently."


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