FLYNN-SATIONAL: LSU 30, Auburn 24

LSU's offense lined up at the Auburn 22-yard line on 3rd-and-7, trailing 24-23 as the clock ticked below 10 seconds remaining in the game.

All LSU had to do was down the ball and set up what could have been the winning field goal attempt.

 

Instead, LSU quarterback Matt Flynn lofted a pass to receiver Demetrius Byrd who was single covered along the left side. Byrd fought through the arms of the Auburn cornerback and landed in the end zone with the winning score with one second remaining.

 

Tommy Tuberville, put that in your cigar and smoke it.

 

In one of the most improbable endings in Tiger Stadium since two weeks ago when LSU converted three fourth downs in its last drive to beat Florida 28-24, LSU claimed a 30-24 win over the visiting Auburn Tigers in front of 92,360 exhausted yet elated fans. 

 

Byrd's touchdown was the last play of a nine-play, 58-yard drive that marked LSU's second, second-half comeback. The home-standing Tigers trailed 17-7 after halftime before taking a 23-17 lead and trailed 24-23 after Auburn scored a go-ahead touchdown with 3:21 to play in the game.

 

The win improved LSU's record to 7-1 and 4-1 in the Southeastern Conference heading into a well-deserved bye week before traveling for another sure-to-be hard knock game at Alabama on November 3. Auburn fell to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in the SEC, one game behind LSU and Alabama atop the SEC western division.

 

"Our football team was very weary and I could tell," LSU Coach Les Mile said. "It took some time to get it going. We went into the locker room at halftime and our team needed to regroup and understood we needed to come out and play. To me, they showed great character and resolve the way they played in the second half."

 

LSU finally claimed the lead with 12:55 to play in the game after Jacob Hester hauled in a pass from Flynn at the 4-yard line on third-and-goal and leapt over the pylon on the right side to give LSU a 20-17 lead following the point after. David extended that lead to six points on LSU's next drive with a 33-yard field goal with 8:12 remaining in the game.

But, Auburn fought back as quarterback Brandon Cox completed 4-of-6 passes on the ensuing drive and was helped by a questionable personal foul call against LSU's Craig Steltz on an incompletion. Auburn scored the tying touchdown with 3:21 remaining in the game when Cox delivered a bullet to Rod Smith in the south end zone, ending a nine-play, 83-yard drive. The point after by Wes Byrum staked the visiting Tigers to a 24-23 lead with 3:21 to play.

 

Auburn squibbed the following kickoff along the turf, away from LSU's deep returners, but that set LSU with good field position at its own 42 to start what would be the winning drive.

 

LSU's offense was sluggish and out-of-sync in the first half, but recovered to gouge Auburn in the second half, finishing with 488 total yards, 319 of those coming from Flynn's sharp passing. He completed 22-of-34 including three touchdowns and an interception that did not appear to be his fault. He also rushed for 34 crucial yards, mostly in the second half.

 

Early Doucet, LSU's All-American receiver candidate, played his first significant action since tearing a groin muscle in practice in week 3 of the season. He led all receivers with seven catches for 93 yards. LSU one-two punched Auburn with Doucet and Byrd, who contributed three catches for 89 yards, including the game-winning touchdown.

 

LSU also rushed for 169 yards while holding Auburn's very able running game to 97 yards. Brad Lester led the way for Auburn with 68 yards on 16 carries. Cox completed 18-of-28 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns.

 

"Two good football teams played tonight," said Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville. "Somebody had to lose. Unfortunately, we did."     

 

Auburn very steadily and methodically drove the ball for the first score of the game after receiving the opening kick. After starting at its own 37, Auburn drove 63 yards in 11 plays, the last of which was a 17-yard pass from Cox to Montez Billings after the Tiger quarterback scrambled away from the LSU rush. The touchdown pass and the following extra point gave the visiting Tigers a 7-0 lead with 10:10 to play in the first quarter.

 

After the two teams traded punts, LSU answered the plodding Auburn march with a quick strike, four-play, 62-yard dash to tie the score 7-7 with 3:19 to play in the opening quarter. Flynn extended the drive with a 15-yard, third-down pass to Brandon LaFell who tiptoed just inside the west sideline on the drive's third play. On the next play, Flynn lofted a screen pass to tailback Keiland Williams at the Auburn 46. Williams danced and darted through the Auburn defense all the way to the end zone, awakening the Tiger Stadium crowd.

 

But the stadium was hushed again with 9:34 to play in the half after Auburn scored three plays following a fumble by LSU back-up quarterback Ryan Perrilloux. Perrilloux ran an option to the left side for a six-yard gain before he was hit from behind and fumbled the ball right into the arms of Auburn defensive back Jerraud Powers. Powers returned the fumble to the LSU 3-yard line before he was forced out by Trindon Holliday. Three plays later, fullback Carl Stewart bounded over the defense into the end zone, giving Auburn a 14-7 lead.

 

Auburn attempted an onsides kick on the ensuing kickoff, but LSU was able to recover, giving the Tigers a first down at their 41. After picking up two first downs and moving to the Auburn 38, the hometown Tigers moved backwards across midfield and were forced to punt back to Auburn, who claimed possession at its 5-yard line.

 

The lousy field position did not intimidate Auburn, as the visiting Tigers drove the ball steadily into the teeth of LSU's defense before being stopped 11-plays later at the LSU 5-yard line. Byrum added a 22-yard field goal with 1:40 to play in the half to extend his team's lead to 17-7.

 

LSU answered Auburn's field goal to end the first half with a field goal to begin the second half, driving 56 yards in seven plays to the Auburn 12. David drilled the 29-yarder with 11:21 remaining in the third quarter to cut the Auburn lead to 17-10. The key play for LSU was a 33-yard completion from Flynn to Doucet, who leaped among three defenders to haul in the remarkable catch on 3rd-and-9 to extend the drive on its third play.

 

Auburn fired back with a trick fumble-rooskie play on the ensuing kick as returner Ben Tate dropped the kickoff at the four before he and four other Auburn returners turned their backs to the LSU tacklers. Patrick Lee emerged with the ball and sprinted to the 40-yard line.

 

But the Tigers gained no yards on the drive and punted to LSU.

 

A block in the back on the return moved LSU's starting field position to its 5-yard line and the drive seemed to stall on 4th-and-4 at the LSU 32. But, Auburn jumped offsides on the punt attempt, giving LSU a first down at the 37. Three plays later, Flynn found a wide open LaFell at the Auburn 20. But, instead of catching and cradling the ball for a long gain, LaFell inexplicably tossed the ball in the air, allowing Lee to run under the ball and intercept it at the Auburn 18.

 

Lee's return moved the ball to the 22. But, Auburn was only able to advance just beyond midfield and was forced to punt.

 

LSU took over at its 33-yard line and immediately turned the field around as Flynn found Byrd 58-yards down the field on the drive's first play to set LSU with a first-and-goal at the Auburn 9-yard line. LSU failed to move any closer, but David added another field goal to cut the lead to 17-13 with 2:03 to play in the third quarter.

 

After holding Auburn to a three-and-out on the ensuing drive, LSU took over at its own 15-yard line and marched steadily through the air and on the ground deep into Auburn territory setting up a 3rd-and-goal at the 5-yard line and also setting up a head-scratching call from the game officials.

 

Flynn connected with Hester who dove for the corner of the end zone along the east sideline for an apparent touchdown. But, the play was reviewed while a flag lay on the field at the 5-yard line. After a lengthy review, the referee announced there was no penalty and the call on the field of a touchdown was confirmed, giving the crowd a chance to erupt and finally giving LSU the lead. The point after made the score 20-17 LSU with 12:55 to play after an eight-play, 85-yard drive that ate just 2:18 off the clock.

 

LSU drove deep into Auburn territory again on its next possession, taking the ball 55 yards all the way to the Tiger 16 in six plays before stalling on 4th-and 1. David kicked another field goal, this time from 33 yards away, extending LSU's lead to 23-17 with 8:12 remaining in the game.

 

"We had to win," Hester said. "We knew that we had to win. We are a second half football team. We take pride in winning in the second half." 


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