AAF Revisits History: Murray & Mettenberger Square Off Six Years Later

AAF Revisits History: Murray & Mettenberger Square Off Six Years Later
Aaron Murray (UGA) and Zach Mettenburger (LSU) square off again in this AAF duel of former SEC quarterbacks. (Photo: Atlanta Legends / AAF)

By Jaylon Thompson / The Alliance

ATLANTA – The scene was electric.

As the sun peaked under its fall twilight, the last reflective rays lined the playing surface at Sanford Stadium. Nary an eye could see for a brief moment.

It didn’t matter to the 92,746 University of Georgia faithful. You didn’t have to see to understand what was happening.

The concession lines could wait. The lines to the bathrooms were a non-issue. The ruckus of College Gameday were long gone.

The Atlanta Legends (1-3) return home to start a three-game home stand against the Memphis Express (1-3) this Sunday, March 10, at 4 p.m. ET at Georgia State Stadium. The game can be seen on the CBS Sports Network. Tickets to all Legends games are available here.

Nothing mattered except for “that play.”

In 2013, all eyes were glued to the heavyweight bout that was the No. 13 LSU Tigers visiting the No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs.

A back-and-forth game came down to one crucial play. With 1:47 left, Georgia needed a touchdown to win.

All night, both teams battered each other with a high-powered attack. It was up to former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray to engineer a game-winning drive.

Murray was sensational throughout the game. He was 20-for-34 and threw four touchdowns and one interception. He also added a touchdown on the ground.

Still, he found himself trailing former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger. The LSU signal-caller was a former Georgia recruit. He was even roommates with Murray during his freshman campaign.

After transferring as a freshman, he paced LSU all night. Mettenberger was 23 of 37 for 372 yards and three touchdowns.

Yet, all he could do was watch from the sideline. Murray was performing on center stage.

On the snap, Murray dropped back and went through his progression. He eventually was flushed out of the pocket and found receiver Justin Scott-Wesley in the end zone.

The 25-yard touchdown sank LSU. Georgia went up 44-41 and held on for the win.

In a game with a myriad of NFL standouts, two Alliance of American Football stars shined the brightest.

On Sunday, Murray and Mettenberger square off again as the Memphis Express visit the Atlanta Legends at Georgia State Stadium.

“It will be fun and that was a great game when we played LSU,” Murray said. “I think it was 44-41 and there was Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Todd Gurley II, and all of our starters. It was probably one of the most memorable moments in Athens and Sanford Stadium.”

It’s been six years since both players started in the same game. Murray earned the starting nod after leading the Legends to victory over the Arizona Hotshots. Mettenberger took over as the starter and helped the Express defeat the San Diego Fleet.

The former roommates are excited to see each other. Murray is happy to see Mettenberger succeed at the highest level.

“I am just happy for him,” Murray said. “We were roommates my freshman year and he has been through it all. He went to the Tennessee Titans and got some starts there. He was in and out of the NFL and was the No. 3 guy in Memphis. He has worked his way to the starting role and done a tremendous job when he has been in there.”

Murray and Mettenberger won’t be the only players to exchange pleasantries. The game will feature Legends cornerbacks and former Georgia stars Damian Swann and Shaq Wiggins. Express stars Terrence Magee and Anthony Johnson, who both starred at LSU, will also play.

Johnson remembers the game well. He intercepted Murray in the game. He is excited to face him again in The Alliance and get some redemption.

“It stung a little bit as Aaron was a great college player and quarterback,” Johnson said. “Zach was my quarterback at the time. We couldn’t get the job done at Georgia. We are going back down to Atlanta and will get it done this week.”

Johnson will be looking for another interception as well.

“I had one interception in college, and it came against the right guy because I will see him this weekend,” Johnson said.

The rematch is set. It’s been six years in the making and it comes down to Sunday afternoon. Tune into CBS Sports Network for the quasi-rematch at Georgia State Stadium.

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Jaylon Thompson covers the Atlanta Legends for The Alliance of American Football. Follow him on Twitter JaylonThompson.