Running Game Snoozes Again After Halftime

Auburn rushed for just 17 yards in the third quarter and 23 in the fourth.

Baton Rouge, La.--The Auburn offense has made a habit of scoring early and scoring late, but everything in between hasn't been pretty for most of the season. For the fourth consecutive week the Tigers scored on its opening possession. And for the fifth time this season they scored late in the game to take the lead.

"We just lost our momentum," tailback Brad Lester said, "but it seems like whenever we wanted to score, we could score. We came back at the end, tried to get the ball out of the backfield and we got in the end zone. But we've got to be more productive from the beginning of the (second) half."

For the second time in four weeks Auburn blew a double-digit halftime lead.

Against LSU, Auburn had first half scoring drives of 63 yards, three and 90. However, the first four possessions of the second half went for zero, 31, seven and six, yielding no points as LSU came back and claimed a 23-17 lead after trailing 17-7 at intermission.

"We had to turn away from the running game a little bit because they had too many people in the box," Lester noted. "We started throwing the ball a little bit."

The offense might have been able to move the ball and score when absolutely necessary, but when your opponent takes the lead with one second remaining that strategy backfires. The offense went 83 yards in nine plays and left the field for the final time with more points on the board than the opponent, but never got another chance.

"I've had a lot tougher," Lester said of the loss. "I lost a game with two seconds to go when we were on offense and fumbled the ball in high school. That one hurt me more than this one. Of course this hurts, but we've just got to compete next week and come back.

"We're a team that likes to compete and we're going to practice as hard as we did before," he added. "Probably even harder and just come back and get ready for next week. It's tough, but it's stuff you've got to deal with. We played good as a team, and they played good, too. It was two good teams and somebody had to lose the game. Unfortunately it was us."

Ben Tate, more of a power back, had carried the load from the tailback position for most of the season while Lester was suspended for five games. Even after Lester's return, Tate was still the primary back. However, against a defense that was just as big and just as fast as Auburn has faced, Lester was the go-to guy against LSU.

He was impressive shaking defenders and pushing piles, but there wasn't much room all night. He rushed for just 68 yards on 16 carries. Tate had just 17 yards on 10 carries as Auburn rushed 35 times for just 97 yards.

Lester, who has been through more heartache than most of his teammates with his academic suspension earlier in the season, said that the team's attitude was still positive in the locker room following the game.

"It was just Coach Tuberville (who spoke)," Lester noted. "He said that we played a good game and we've just to fight back hard next week. That's what we plan on doing.

"We played a top team and it's just unfortunate that we lost. One of us was going to lose. We said that it was going to come down to the last minute and that's how it turned out."


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