Night of Missed Opportunities for Tigers

Georgia rallied for a 31-24 SEC football victory over Auburn on Saturday night in Athens.

Athens, Ga.--Auburn's frustration against their oldest rival continued on Saturday night as the Georgia Bulldogs took a see-saw affair, hanging on for a 31-24 victory on Saturday night at Sanford Stadium.

For a second year in a row, Auburn threw a touchdown pass into the end in the closing seconds. For a second year in a row it fell incomplete.

This time it was Chris Todd making the pass, but his toss to Darvin Adams was the bitter end for the Tigers just like a Kodi Burns pass was last year in Auburn's 17-13 loss at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The setback was Auburn's fourth straight to the Bulldogs, the first time that has happened in the series since the 1940s and it narrowed AU's edge in the

"This one is a tough one to handle tonight," Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said after leaving his disappointed team in the locker room.

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn summed it up perfectly from an Auburn perspective when he said, "We had too many missed opportunities."

His quarterback, Todd, said, "We were really close on a couple plays there in the end." He credited Georgia for playing a "four quarter game" on a night when the Tigers ran hot and cold on both offense and defense.

Georgia improved to 6-4 overall and 4-3 in the SEC with a win that was aided by not turning the ball over while Auburn lost it twice on interceptions. Georgia's struggles this year can be directly attributed to turnovers.

"We have a good football team, but I don't know how good anybody is when we turn the ball over," Chizik said. "That was certainly the case tonight. We're not good enough to come back from that yet--a lot of teams aren't."

Auburn couldn't have started much better. The Tigers won the toss, took the football and scored on their first two possessions to take a quick 14-0 lead.

On the first possession Todd was 4-4 passing with gainers of 11, 18 and 17 yards to Adams. His next pass was a five-yard scoring strike to Kodi Burns after Todd bought extra time with a scramble. Auburn moved 74 yards on nine plays.

After a three-and-out for the Georgia offense, the Tigers drove 82 yards on 11 plays.

A 16-yard run by Onterio McCalebb on third and 12 got the drive started. The other big play to move into scoring territory was a pass in the flat to Mario Fannin for 22 yards to convert a third down and 10.

Two plays later from the Georgia 31, Todd looked deep to Terrell Zachery, who was uncovered in the end zone as he caught the pass.

Terrell Zachery scores to put the Tigers up by two TDs in the first quarter.

Auburn's defense put together another three-and-out, but couldn't take advantage of good field position after a punt return of 19 yards by Demond Washington to the Georgia 44. After that series, the Tigers were able to move the ball at times in the first half, but never got into scoring position again in the first or second quarters.

The second quarter got off to a much better start for the Bulldogs who moved 87 yards on just five plays. A bomb from midfield with Joe Cox throwing to Israel Troupe, who got behind cornerback Neiko Thorpe, cut the lead to 14-7 less than two minutes into the quarter.

At the half the Tigers netted 207 yards on 37 plays with 172 through the air. as Todd hit 15-18 passes with one interception. Georgia netted 107 yards at the half with 69 through the air as Cox was 4-8 passing or 69 yards.

Georgia got the opening kickoff of the second half and moved 38 yards on nine plays before kicking a 50-yard Blair Walsh field goal with 11:05 on the clock to cut Auburn's lead to 14-10.

After a three-and-out for the Tigers, Georgia's offense went to work put together a touchdown drive to take the lead at 17-14 with 4:51 left. The big play was a third down conversion that tipped off the hands of linebacker Josh Bynes into the hands of tight end Orson Charles or a 34-yard gain on third down and eight. Washaun Ealey scored the touchdown from a yard out a play after a 19-yard gain when he was ruled as scoring, but a replay overturned the first TD call.

The Tigers finally ended their scoring drought on the next possession as Wes Byrum kicked a 37-yard field goal with 2:08 left in the third quarter. The junior's kick hit the left upright and bounced through for three points. The big play on the drive was a 32-yard pass play over the middle to Tommy Trott to put the Tigers in field goal range.

Auburn had its chances to pull out a win in the fourth quarter, a period when the Bulldogs scored first on an 11-yard run by Caleb King immediately after Neiko Thorpe was beaten deep on a sideline route on third and long for a 47-yard gainer on third down and 16.

UGA's lead didn't last long as Demond Washington matched the Georgia touchdown by racing 99 yards for a kickoff return to tie the score at 24-24.

Auburn's defense, which was playing in the final quarter without Eltoro Freeman who suffered a concussion, came up with a stop and Auburn began moving the football with a chance to take the lead from its own 12. However, a miscommunication between Todd and Adams on a pass route on first and 10 from the UGA 48 resulted in an intercepted pass. Georgia got great field position at the Auburn 39 after tight end Tommy Trott was called for a facemask penalty when making the tackle.

Georgia turned the turnover into the winning touchdown on a 24-yard run by King with 6:52 to play as he found a seam in the second team Auburn defensive front and raced into the end zone.

Auburn then moved the ball into scoring territory only to come up short with a minute left.

The Tigers hurt themselves with a couple of penalties on the drive including a big one that pushed Auburn back to its own 45 instead of having first down at the UGA 24 when a reverse pass thrown by Burns was called back due to an illegal motion penalty.

Auburn overcame that by moving to a first down at the UGA 24 and then to another one at the 22. However, the drive stalled there. The Tigers had a close call on second down and 11 when Mario Fannin couldn't hold onto a pass at the goal line on a big hit on a pass over the middle. UGA safety Baccari Rambo was injured on the play and carried off the field on a stretcher.

Todd was then sacked for a loss of seven and after two Tiger timeouts a false start put the Tigers into a fourth down and 23 situation at the 35. A deep sideline route to Adams ended the threat.

"I am very proud of our team," Chizik said. "We just kept coming at them and coming back after jumping off to the quick start and Georgia came firing back."

Next up for the Tigers is a home game a week from Friday vs. Georgia. "Our guys have been going for 15 straight weeks, close to four months non-stop," Chizik said. "We have to stay smart on how to give rest and still stay sharp for Alabama. We need to be smart about it and that is something that we'll look into tomorrow. They are going to take a few days off, and we need that."

Auburn finished the game with just 353 yards with only 115 on the ground on 38 carries. UGA finished the night with 342 yards with 169 on 38 rushing plays.

Mike Blanc was in on nine tackles to lead Auburn. Jake Ricks was next with eight followed by Josh Bynes with seven.

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