Auburn receiver Montez Billings said the team had been determined to win; that the loss was so close made it that much worse.
"It came down to the last second, and we couldn't push it in," he said. "It hurts real bad."
The Auburn football team's academic advisor, Virgil Starks, died of a massive heart attack shortly after Auburn's Homecoming game last Saturday. In the midst of mourning for Starks and attending his memorial service, the Tigers prepared to face a powerful Georgia team in the seniors' final home game.
Though well aware they were the underdogs, Auburn desperately wanted to win for several reasons, Billings noted.
"We were playing for Virgil Starks and the seniors," he said. "It was our last home game so we were playing for them. We had an emotional week; we're trying to get our heads up. We had a whole lot of confidence. We wanted that game real bad."
But it was not to be.
Billings, playing with a broken nose, caught a team-high six passes for 66 yards. His longest was a 25-yard first-down catch in the fourth quarter. He grabbed it on a second-and-15 play, breathing new life into the series. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Auburn's offense was not able to score on the possession.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, a Billings catch did help set up a touchdown.
On second-and-14 from AU's own 16-yard line, Billings caught a nine-yard pass from Burns. A few plays later, Mario Fannin found the end zone for the score.
Billings said Auburn's offense is struggling in the red zone. It can get there; it just can't get out of it and into the end zone.
"We're struggling real bad," he said. "We've got to put the ball in. It seems like we couldn't produce."
But, he admits, things are getting better. Each week, young quarterback Kodi Burns improves, Billings said. The defense continues to be Auburn's strength, he added.
"The defense is holding them down real good; they play hard every game," he said. "The offense is getting better every week so we're getting more balanced and producing more. Every game (Kodi) gets better and better. He can run the ball more and pass the game good so it's making it good for us."
Although the Tigers lost, they had plenty of chances to defeat Georgia. Auburn has struggled mightily on offense this season and went on a four-game losing skid that ended with a win over Tennessee-Martin last week.
Billings said the players have been fighting discouragement, but refuse to give up.
"The coaches are trying to motivate us to go out there and practice hard and play hard," he said. "We try to keep our heads up, which we do. We wanted this game real bad. It came down to the last second and hurt us real bad.
"We've just got to get our heads up for the Iron Bowl. It's a big game--our last game. It will determine if we go to a bowl game or not. We're going to keep our heads up and fight hard and try to do our best."