Auburn, Ala.--It wasn’t necessarily the reunion that Jonathan Jones was looking for when he looked across the line of scrimmage and saw his former high school teammate Josh Barge lined up at wide receiver for the Jacksonville State Gamecocks.
Jones, a senior from Carrollton, Ga., and his fellow defensive backs had their hands full with Barge, a redshirt junior. Jones and the Tigers came away with a 27-20 overtime victory over the FCS opponent in what would have been one of the biggest upsets in Auburn history.
Barge finished with 14 catches for 132 yards, including a couple of back-shoulder sideline receptions against Jones. A preseason All-SEC defensive back, Jones had some good moments with seven tackles, a forced fumble and two pass breakups.
“They made a lot of one-on-one plays, we made some mistakes and they beat us with some stuff that hurt us,” Jones said. “We have to get better for next week. LSU is always a great opponent and we haven’t won down there in a while. We are looking forward to going down there and getting a victory.”
The Tigers came very close to entering Baton Rouge next week with a 1-1 record, not what is expected of the No. 6 team in the country going into the Jax State contest.
“It was a frustrating day,” he said. “Any time you give up a pass play it’s frustrating. Bottom line is we are going to have to make those plays. I think they figured out when we were in one-on-one coverage and when we were going to play off. You have to understand that they are going to make some plays and we are going to make some. We just have to make more than they do,” Jones pointed out.
Auburn forced a three-and-out while down a touchdown with 2:01 to play that resulted in a 17-yard punt that gave the Tigers possession at the Gamecocks’ 31-yard line. Five plays later Jeremy Johnson found Melvin Ray for a leaping 10-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone with only 39 seconds that led to the overtime.
“At the end of the game, we knew we had to stop them from getting a first down--just one stop. Getting a stop and forcing them to punt was the big play of the game for the defense,” Jones said.
In other news and notes:
*Nickel back Josh Holsey went out on Auburn’s first defensive series with an apparent knee injury as he had to be helped off the field. Holsey played only on special teams against Louisville the previous week because of a knee problem. Holsey was not in uniform in the second half, but was moving around on the sidelines.
*Freshman running back Kerryon Johnson’s first offensive statistic came in the first quarter against Jax State. The Mr. Football for Alabama last year caught a pass for seven yards from Jeremy Johnson.
*During the first quarter when the only scoring was a 27-yard Daniel Carlson field goal, Auburn only outgained the Gamecocks 91 to 89 yards in total offense. Jax State took the upper hand in the second quarter, limiting Auburn to 59 yards while picking up 136. Going back to the fourth quarter of the Louisville game when the Tigers only had four total yards, Auburn had picked up only 156 yards total offense in that quarter and the first two quarters against the Gamecocks.
*Auburn gained 123 yards in the third quarter and 126 in the fourth quarter and overtime for 401 total yards to 438 yards for Jax State. The Tigers also suffered two interceptions by Jeremy Johnson and a fumble loss by Roc Thomas for four turnovers to only one turnover for the Gamecocks.
*Nova did the pre-game flight to open the home season.
*Shortly before the eagle flight, there was an impressive introduction to Auburn’s massive new scoreboard, the largest in college football. The production featured several aerial views of the campus and downtown Auburn.
*The Jax State contest was Auburn’s 10th consecutive sellout at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn officials have announced that all seven home games for 2015 have been sold out.
*With an early kickoff the tendency is to have a late arriving crowd, but against the Gamecocks the stadium appeared full at kickoff. The crowd stayed until the end and Coach Gus Malzahn said the fans were a factor in the game in spurring the Tigers on.