Football By: Jeff Shearer
BATON ROUGE, La. – Auburn’s defense contributed mightily to the Tigers’ 24-19 victory Saturday at LSU, especially in crunch time.
After LSU scored a touchdown on its first possession, Auburn held the Bengal Tigers to just four field goals the rest of the game.
LSU’s four fourth-quarter possessions resulted in three punts and Bydarrius Knighten’s victory-clinching interception on fourth down with 1:09 remaining.
“Everybody got more comfortable with the adjustments we had to make to be successful,” said Derick Hall, who made eight tackles and had 1.5 sacks. “Everybody had to do their job to a specific level and the best of their ability. I think that’s what helped us, quarter to quarter, being able to become more confident and play more loose and physical.”
Auburn shut out LSU in the decisive fourth quarter by holding the Bengal Tigers to 54 yards on 19 plays.
Auburn held LSU to 33 rushing yards on 25 attempts, an average of 1.3 yards per carry. Zakoby McClain led the Tigers with 12 tackles.
Even amid college football’s passing revolution, games are still won and lost on the ground.
“Coach Cadillac always tell us, ‘It’s always going to come down to the running back room,'” said Auburn running back Jarquez Hunter, who rushed for 65 yards on six carries. “We’ve got to make plays to win the game.”
The true freshman produced the key play on Auburn’s game-winning 92-yard drive, a 44-yard sprint down the sideline to LSU’s 22-yard-line.
“That was a big play. My lineman (left tackle Austin Troxell) made a great block,” Hunter said. “He told me before the play, ‘Just follow me and cut off my block,’ and I did what he told me. That started the momentum of that drive.”
Five plays later, Hunter scored the go-ahead touchdown from the 1 with 3:11 to play, powering past a defender at the goal-line.
“I saw me and the linebacker. I said, ‘I’ve got to run through this guy and make this touchdown,’ Hunter said. “We had to win this game. When they called my name, I had to go in there and step up and make plays.”
“That dude is 110 percent effort on every single play,” quarterback Bo Nix said of Hunter. “The moment is not too big. He’s got the same look in his eyes on a third down against LSU in Baton Rouge as he does on a Tuesday practice, and that’s valuable.
“He runs the ball so hard. He’s got great vision. When we need a spark, he goes on a long run and gets us down there. Once he did that, I knew we had a great plan to punch it in, and he did that at the end, he ran through a guy to score. We pride ourselves on toughness and we were all tough tonight.”
Stopping the streak
When the Tigers boarded the plane for their flight home, Prince’s “1999” played on the speakers in honor of Auburn’s most recent Tiger Stadium victory.
“We talked about 1999 all week. It was the year before I was born,” Nix said. “Twenty-two years ago. The curse is finally broken.”
“It was a great win,” Hunter said. “It’s a great accomplishment. We did what we had to do.”
Overcoming a 13-0 first-half deficit, the Tigers earned their second consecutive double-digit comeback, something Auburn last accomplished in the 2010 national championship season when the Tigers erased a 14-point Georgia lead and a 24-0 Alabama advantage.
Now it’s Auburn’s turn to claim a streak in the SEC West rivalry: back-to-back wins over LSU.
“We didn’t draw it up that way.”
“You can see a winner & a fighter.”
“I just saw that hair coming out of the back of his helmet flopping, running wide open.”
“I’ll never forget the vision I had.”
Based on Bo’s description of Fromm’s Flow, perhaps this play could be called “Bo over the Flop.” pic.twitter.com/FutE3sgOiV