New Power kicker Rauch will always have a spot in college football history
June 22, 2013 4:00 AM
Alvin Ray Jackson holds the football for kicker Julian Rauch at Power practice Tuesday on the South Side.
By Craig Meyer Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Standing on the sideline with only a handful of minutes remaining, Julian Rauch began to grasp the enormity of what he was witnessing.
The then-Appalachian State and current Power kicker watched intently as his team, trailing No. 5 Michigan by one point, marched up the field with a chance to do the unthinkable -- win the game.
As a kicker, Rauch was someone rarely called upon, but when he was, it carried some sort of importance. Staring down a 24-yard field goal attempt with 30 seconds left, the moment would never get more important and before a tense crowd of more than 100,000 in Michigan Stadium.
With countless others watching intently from afar, Rauch kicked the ball through the uprights on Sept. 1, 2007, and thrust himself into college football lore. Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32.
Rauch's field goal was the deciding score in one of the most stunning upsets in college football history, as the relatively unknown Division I-AA school from western North Carolina toppled one of the game's signature programs.
Power (3-9) vs. Orlando (4-8), 7 p.m. today, Amway Arena, Orlando, Fla.
Coming off 59-21 loss June 15 vs. Philadelphia. The 21 points scored were its fewest since April 14. ... Activated QB Steven Sheffield and LB Alvin Ray Jackson. ... Ranks last in scoring offense at 39 points per gamer.
Coming off 62-55 victory June 15 vs. Cleveland. ... Won the first meeting this season, 52-38, on May 4. ... Giving up a league-worst 58.6 points per game.
On a Power team where many of the players come from unheralded or obscure backgrounds, Rauch's story is unique. The play lasted four seconds, but it is a moment that has endured.
"Every day goes on, and still, it becomes that much bigger of a deal," Rauch said.
Despite winning three Division I-AA national championships in Rauch's college career from 2004-07, Appalachian State was viewed by many as early season fodder for a Michigan team expected to contend for the BCS championship.
"During the field goal, after the field goal, it's just another field goal at that point," Rauch said. "When we ran on to the field after the game and it's quiet, that's when you realize."
That kick six years ago didn't inspire the Power to sign Rauch, but the team turned to him when it needed help at kicker.
With Josh Czajkowski struggling, the team signed the 27-year-old Rauch to a contract in early May and he has alleviated some of the Power's special teams woes.
In the past four games, Rauch has made 22 of his 25 extra points in a sport where point-after attempts are far from automatic. His predecessor made 18 of 27.
"Even when he came here to try out for us, we saw the pop that he had in his leg strength," Power coach Derek Stingley said. "I knew he would be an asset for us."
While in Pittsburgh, Rauch maintains a strong connection to the state where he was raised and educated. After graduating from college, he moved back to the Charlotte area and began working with his grandfather, Marshall Rauch, on managing personal investments. In recent years, Rauch has branched out to do some of that work on his own, but he is still in constant touch with his 90-year-old grandfather, a former Duke basketball player and state senator.
But no matter what Rauch accomplishes, there will always be that Saturday in September in Michigan, the moment that forever tied him to one of the most unexpected narratives in football history.
"I was just excited to be in that situation," Rauch said. "It was nice that the coaches put it on my shoulders and they had the trust in me to be able to put everybody's hard work on my shoulders for that one game."