LSU Nips the AU Tigers At the Buzzer

Auburn's head coach discusses his team's hearbreaking 30-24 SEC road loss to LSU.

Baton Rouge, La.--Although there were a lot of big plays in LSU's 30-24 victory over Auburn on Saturday night, Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said a big reason his team lost the lead in the SEC West was the failure of the offense to produce in the second half.

Leading 17-7 at halftime, Auburn didn't score again until 3:21 was left as Brandon Cox hooked up with Rodgeriqus Smith for a three-yard touchdown pass that allowed Auburn to regain the lead at 24-23.

However, that wasn't enough as Matt Flynn's high risk 22-yard pass to Demetrius Byrd with one second left produced a high reward as the wide receiver caught the perfectly thrown ball over cornerback Jerraud Powers with one second left in the game.

The setback for Auburn makes it a longshot that Tuberville's Tigers can reach their goal of playing in the SEC Championship GAme as their four-game winning streak was ended as they fall to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in the SEC. LSU, ranked fifth nationally, improves to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the conference.

"We played hard, both teams did," Tuberville said. "It was a very physical game. I am proud of our guys how we fought back.

"We didn't do much on offense the third quarter and half the fourth quarter," he said. "That really put us in a bind, put our defense in a bind. We just didn't make any plays. We were our own worst enemy.

"We knew eventually our offense would get us in trouble and it did in the third and half the fourth," Tuberville added. "We did fight back. This team has come a long way in six weeks. We have made some plays and won some games.

"It is tough to lose that one in that situation," the coach said. "We had the lead with three minutes to go. They have got a good football team. Give them credit. They made the plays and the quarterback made the throws."

Senior Carl Stewart, who scored one of Auburn's three touchdowns, said he is confident that his team can bounce back from the setback. "It's tough, but we have shown earlier this season we can get over a loss and I believe we will do it again," he said.

LSU outgained Auburn 488-296 yards in total offense as the Tigers struggled to move the football after having more yards than the Bayou Bengals at halftime.

Most of Auburn's second half production came on a do-or-die drive that moved the ball 83 yards in 4:43 to give the Tigers a lead. Most of that was done with the passing of Cox, who completed 18-28 passes for 199 yards and two scores.

However, in the end, LSU's Matt Flynn trumped Cox by passing for 319 yards and three scores as he hit 22-34 passes.

Auburn's ground game was held in check as the Tigers netted just 97 yards on 35 carries while LSU ran for 169 yards on 33 running plays.

LSU won the toss and elected to defer. Auburn took the opening possession after a short kickoff returned by Cole Bennett and started from its own 37.

With Cox hitting four of five passes, the Tigers marched 63 yards in 11 plays, scoring with 10:10 in the first quarter on a 17-yard first down pass to Montez Billings. The sophomore made a diving catch for his first college touchdown as Cox threw the ball on the run after rolling left out of the pocket. Wes Byrum's kick made the score 7-0.

LSU scored on its second possession, moving 62 yards on just four plays. A 46-yard screen pass to running back Keiland Williams was executed perfectly and he raced 46 yards down the sideline for a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 with 3:19 left in the opening quarter.

Auburn's defense set up the second touchdown for the Tigers when Powers caught a Ryan Perrilloux fumble in the air caused by Zac Etheridge.

Speedster Trindon Holiday saved the TD, tackling Powers at the three. Two runs by Ben Tate put the ball just in front of the goal line. On third down, Carl Stewart went airborne at right guard for the score with 9:34 left in the second quarter putting AU 14-7.

Auburn stretched the lead to 17-7 by halftime with a 90-yard drive that featured more good passing by Cox and strong running by Brad Lester. The biggest play was a short pass to Billings that covered 31 yards.

The Tigers had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Byrum with 1:40 left in the second quarter on the 12th play of the possession that lasted five minutes and 12 seconds.

At halftime, the visitors held an 18:27 to 11:33 edge in time of possession and a 169-137 lead in total offense. In the first two quarters Cox hit 11-15 passes for 112 yards with no interceptions and the one TD.

LSU cut the gap to seven points and then four with a pair of third quarter field goals in the third quarter by Colt David.

The first was on the initial possession of the second half as LSU drove 56 yards on eight plays to set up the 29-yarder.

The second came with 2:03 left in the half, a 26-yarder on fourth and goal from the nine after Matt Flynn hit a 58-yard pass to Byrd over Powers to give the Bayou Bengals goal to go.

LSU took the lead with 12:55 left in the fourth quarter on a five-yard pass to tailback Jacob Hester that will prove to be controversial. After a long discussion and a video review, officials picked up flags they thrown on the play for an illegal formation and allowed the touchdown to stand. After the game Tuberville, a member of the NCAA Rules Committee, said the officials blew the call because under the rules they did something that was not allowed.

LSU stretched the lead to 23-17 with 8:12 on another field goal by David after the Auburn offense couldn't move.

Auburn got the ball back at its own 17 with 8:04 and drove for the go-ahead touchdown.

LSU got the ball back at its own 42 after a short kickoff by the Tigers that was supposed to go about 10 yards deeper as the plan was to keep the ball away from LSU's speed kickoff returner, Holiday.

LSU, with one timeout left, moved the ball 58 yards on nine plays to score with a second left. Flynn risked a pass into the end zone from his own 22, but got away with that risk and the victory.


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