Defense Leads the Way As Auburn Holds Off LSU In Thriller With Wild Finish

Daniel Carlson's half-dozen field goals and lots of good defense proved to be a winning formula for the Auburn football Tigers.

Daniel Carlson (above) was perfect for the Tigers on Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn, Ala.--An Auburn football team that desperately needed good things to happen put together a strong defensive performance combined with outstanding special teams play to take an 18-13 SEC victory over LSU on Saturday night.

The game wasn’t decided until the final play of the night. LSU’s pass into the end zone that was originally ruled a touchdown was taken off the scoreboard because the ball was snapped after the clock had hit 0:00. After the play was reviewed the AU Tigers got to celebrate a victory that evened their record at 2-2.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said he had a good view of what happened at the end of the game. "There was only one second on the clock and I knew they were going to wind it. When he did and the clock hit 0:00, I was pretty confident that time had already expired...It was just a matter of going up to the booth and confirming."

LSU, like Auburn, is now 2-2 overall and 1-1in the SEC.

“We needed that win, we needed it pretty badly,” said senior defensive tackle Montravius Adams. “Like I said last week, we were going to come back.”

Adams and his teammates held LSU to 338 yards and allowed them to convert just 4-13 third downs.

Auburn didn’t set the world on fire offensively, but managed 388 yards and converted 8-19 third downs, which allowed the home team to enjoy a 32:11 to 27:49 time of possession advantage.

The big downside for the offense was it drove into the red zone six times and came away with five Daniel Carlson field goals. On the other trip the Tigers were stopped at the goal line on fourth and one just before halftime. Auburn’s other field poinyd were on a long field goal by the junior.

Senior wide receiver Tony Stevens said he was fired up about the victory. “The team just really stayed together,”?he said. “That was what was really important. Nobody gave up. I love my team. Games like this make you enjoy it.”

LSU coach Les Miles said, "I would like to congratulate Auburn. I thought they played their butts off."

Commenting on his team's delay in snapping the ball on the final play of the game, Miles said, "“We knew there would be no indication of when the clock would start. We knew the referee wasn’t going to blow a whistle or tell our kids to get ready. He was going to raise his hand and drop it, then the clock would start. We were trying to get this set up very quickly and we were pretty close.”

Sean White hit 19-26 passes for 234 yards and won praise from Head Coach Gus Malzahn, who turned the play-calling duties over to Rhett Lashlee, something Malzahn said the offensive coordinator will continue to do the rest of the season.

Kerryon Johnson rushed for 93 yards on 22 carries while Kamryn Pettway gained 61 yards on 17 carries. Malzahn said Pettway was hurt during the game so that is why Johnson handled the running after halftime. Johnson also led Auburn in receiving, making four catches for 68 yards.

Leonard Fournette, who rushed for three TDs vs. Auburn last year, was kept out of the end zone as he gained 101 yards on 16 carries and caught two passes for four yards.


The Tigers converge on LSU's Leonard Fournette.

Each team scored in the first quarter. Carlson kicked a 51-yard field goal at the 6:32 mark as the home team took advantage of good field position after moving 17 yards on seven plays.

LSU responded by moving 75 yards on six plays with Derrius Guice having the big gainer, a run of 52 yards. On third and goal tight end Foster Moreau caught a three-yard pass from Danny Etling to turn a potential bad play into six points.

Auburn’s first trip to the red zone stalled when White was sacked when he couldn’t find an open receiver. Carlson hit a 29-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-6 with 12:19 left in the second quarter.

Another trip into the red zone ended with an incomplete third down pass into the end zone. Carlson put the home team ahead 9-7 at the 5:14 mark of the second quarter with another 29-yard field goal.

Auburn came even closer to scoring a touchdown in the closing minute of the half, moving 80 yards on nine plays before turning the ball over on a goal line stand by the Bayou Bengals.

On first and goal at the five, Kamryn Pettway ran up the middle for two yards on consecutive plays. He was then stopped inches short of the goal on third down. After a timeout Auburn went with a Kerryon Johnson run at left guard from the wildcat formation, buy he was stopped short of the goal line by John Battle and Kendell Beckwith.

“We were about ready to pace it in, and they had an injury," Malzahn said. "Then we went inside zone and one of them housed right there, and then that last one, like that, in the back probably, but hey, we are trying to win the game. When we got down there, I didn’t feel like kicking a field goal. That’s just part of it and we’ve got to find a way next time in a similar situation to get in the end zone.

"I think it would have really changed the dynamic of the game in the second half and given us some breathing room,' Malzahn said. "Like I said earlier, sometimes it’ the way you win that really makes a long lasting impression on your team, and our guys fought. It’s good to win one when the pressure’s on and you’ve got to find a way. I thought that was a big drive with our offense going down kicking a field goal and going up by more than a field goal. I thought it was a good job by our defense stopping them. It was a good way to win for our team.”

First Half Numbers: Auburn out-gained LSU 231 to 137. AU netted 87 rushing yards on 28 carries. White was 11-14 passes for 144 yards. LSU rushed for 114 yards on 15 carries and completed 6-9 passes for 23 yards.

LSU got the ball to start the second half and managed a first down before punting. Auburn kept the ball for nine plays and moved 72 yards before settling on a 31-yard field goal by Carlson to make the score 12-7 at the 9:43 mark.

The visitors matched Auburn’s field goal, moving 63 yards on eight plays the next possession to set up a 29-yard field goal by Colby Delahoussaye with 5:36 left in the third quarter.

LSU got the next scoring opportunity three plays later when White was sacked and stripped by Arden Key, allowing Davon Godchaux to recover at the AU 16.

Facing fourth and two, LSU elected to take a 25-yard field goal to take the lead at the 2:32 mark of the third period to move ahead 13-12.


Junior defensive end Carl Lawson made two sacks vs. LSU.

Auburn moved 55 yards on 10 plays to regain the lead at 15-13 on a 37-yard field goal with 12:36 to play. AU added another field goal with 2:56 remaining, a 29-yarder, to cap a drive that covered 51 yards on 11 plays.

LSU got the ball back for a do-or-die drive and moved the ball 60 yards on 13 plays before ending the game on the AU 15-yard line when time ran out.

“It's awesome, we’ve been going through some down times, but we’ve all stayed together, stuck together, worked out, had energy, no fighting, no internal things going on, so I knew eventually it was going happen," Lawson said. " It was just special when it did.  To just get a win for this team, and to get a win for Auburn.”

Worth Noting, Part 1: Tre Williams was called for a helmet to helmet hit against LSU QB Danny Etling and disqualified from the game at the 10:55 mark of the second quarter on a call not originally made by the on-the-field officials. However, on review the junior linebacker was removed from the game. LSU’s star defensive end, Arden Key, was not removed from the game for targeting on a high hit on Auburn’s quarterback. 

Worth Noting, Part 2: Tray Matthews, who struggled last season at LSU, led Auburn in tackles with six solos and three assists, including a key open field tackle on LSU’s final possession. 

Stat of the Game: Carlson’s 6-6 night on field goals gave the Tigers their first touchdown-less victory since defeating Mississippi State 3-2 in 2008. "Daniel is the best kicker in college football," Malzahn said. "I think he confirmed that tonight." Carlson said he enjoyed the night because of the final result. "If we don't come out win a win, it doesn't mean anything," the kicker said.

Auburn returns to action next Saturday with a 2:30 p.m. home game vs. Louisiana-Monroe.

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