Dontavius Russell (above) and the rest of the defense gave the Tigers a chance to win in Athens.
Athens, Ga.--An Auburn offense was held to just 164 yards, including only 37 yards passing and seven points, in a 13-7 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs which officially ended the Tigers’ chances of winning the SEC West.
A solid effort was put forth by the Auburn defense, however. Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele’s group held the Bulldog offense to 343 yards and six points. Georgia’s lone touchdown came on the opening drive of the second half when AU quarterback Sean White threw a 34-yard pick-six to Bulldog nickel back Maurice Smith.
The Tigers would eventually allow two field goals in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs won the time of possession tug-of-war in the second half 22:54 to 7:06.
“I feel like we performed pretty well,” said defensive tackle Dontavius Russell. “(Georgia) only scored 13 points so when they only score 13 points you expect to win the game.”
Auburn’s defensive front pressured QB Jacob Eason while also having some success vs. the Bulldog run game. Russell finished with six tackles and two pass deflections while his partners on the D-line made key plays.
Tackle Montravius Adams also had six tackles as well as one sack while end Carl Lawson tallied the exact same stat line as Adams (six tackles, one sack). True freshman Marlon Davidson rounded out the starters’ performances with three tackles.
“They are always effective,” said safety Tray Matthews when asked about the play of the front four. “They played big and fast, and they definitely helped us out a lot (especially) with getting to the quarterback.”
The pressure of the front helped force the lone takeaway of the contest for Auburn. UGA offensive coordinator Jim Chaney called a reverse pass for the Bulldogs on Georgia’s second possession of the first quarter. Wide receiver Terry Godwin was quickly running out of real estate near the sideline when he heaved up a floater to the end zone, which Matthews caught like a punt to end the threat.
“I knew something was up,” Matthews noted on why he was in position to make the interception. “I saw the receiver going downfield so I just made a play. I was surprised that it floated up that high. I just made a play when I needed to.”
Matthews led Auburn in tackles, ending the night with eight to go along with the interception.
Even though the offense had an incredibly rough performance in which it failed to generate a first down in the second half, Russell reaffirmed his belief and trust in his team’s offense saying they’ll “get it together.”
“That’s my teammates,” he said. “We believe in them like they believe in us. Every now and again you have some tough times. As a defense we can’t allow them to get those two field goals. We’re a team and we have to play as (one).”
Coach Gus Malzahn’s team falls to 7-3 (5-2 SEC) following the loss while Georgia moves up to 6-4 (4-4). The Tigers return to action with a home game vs. Alabama A&M next Saturday.