No. 22 Auburn rallies late, falls at No. 10 Penn State

Tank Bigsby, Football: Auburn vs Penn State

Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics


Auburn AUB 2-1 , 0-0


Penn State PSU 3-0 , 1-0

Score By Quarters
Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th F
AUB Auburn 3 7 7 3 20
PSU Penn State 7 7 7 7 28

Game Recap: Football | | By: Jeff Shearer

Presented by Verizon, the exclusive 5G partner of the Auburn Tigers

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Playing in front of the largest crowd ever to witness an Auburn football game, the No. 22 Tigers had two potential game-tying possessions in the final seconds before falling to No. 10 Penn State 28-20 Saturday at Beaver Stadium.

Trailing by eight with 7:02 to play, Auburn drove 73 yards in four minutes before an incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal at PSU’s 2-yard line with 3:08 left.

Auburn’s defense forced a punt, giving the Tigers another opportunity, starting at AU’s 38-yard line with 38 seconds left and no timeouts.

Bo Nix completed three passes to advance to PSU’s 26, but his final throw fell incomplete against Penn State’s prevent defense as time expired.

“It’s a painful loss,” Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin said. “I thought we played hard. The guys were focused. It comes down to a few plays. We put ourselves in a position to win, and we didn’t. That hurts; it should. We need to learn from it and apply the things we can control, and go do those things.” 

Tank Bigsby recorded his third 100-yard game of the season, rushing for 102 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns.  Freshman Jarquez Hunter added 63 yards on nine carries.

The 10th largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history, 109,958, exceeded the previous record for a game involving Auburn, 107,828 at Tennessee in 2004.

Auburn’s defense stopped Penn State on fourth-and-1 on the opening drive to give the Tigers possession on Auburn’s 44.

Bigsby rushed for 18 yards on the Tigers’ first play and Anders Carlson gave Auburn a 3-0 lead with a 45-yard field goal.

Gallery: (9-18-2021) Auburn at Penn State

The Nittany Lions scored on Sean Clifford’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Jahan Dotson to cap an 88-yard drive to lead 7-3 with 2:24 left in the first quarter.

Auburn answered with an 11-play, 75-yard drive, converting three third downs. Nix connected with John Samuel Shenker for 10 yards on third-and-2, then on third-and-12, Nix hit Kobe Hudson for 36 yards to PSU’s 13. 

Bigsby took over from there with three consecutive runs, completing the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run on third-and-1 to regain the lead for Auburn, 10-7 at the 12:28 mark of the second quarter.

Penn State responded with a 91-yard touchdown drive, reclaiming a 14-10 lead on Clifford’s 2-yard pass to Brenton Strange with 1:23 remaining in the half.

Roger McCreary intercepted a long pass at Auburn’s 3-yard line in the closing seconds of the half. 

Penn State took advantage of an Auburn turnover on the opening play of the second half, driving 20 yards in four plays and taking a 21-10 lead on Tyler Warren’s 2-yard rush.

Trailing by 11, Auburn responded to the adversity with a run-oriented, 15-play drive, rushing 12 times for 59 yards, including Bigsby’s 6-yard touchdown run on a toss sweep to trim PSU’s lead to 21-17 with 5:52 left in the third quarter.

Auburn then stopped Penn State short of a first down on a fake punt, leading to Carlson’s 43-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter that pulled the Tigers within one point at 21-20.

The Nittany Lions extended their lead to 28-20 on Noah Cain’s 3-yard run to cap a 75-yard drive with 10:48 to play, but Chandler Wooten’s tackle for loss on third down forced a punt that led to the first of Auurn’s two late scoring chances. Wooten led Auburn with 10 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss.

Nix was 21 of 37 for 185 yards, adding 29 rushing yards. Clifford completed 28 of 32 attempts for 280 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

The Tigers (2-1) return to Jordan-Hare Stadium next Saturday for Homecoming against Georgia State at 3 p.m. CT on SEC Network.

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter: @jeff_shearer

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