In the SEC, you take wins anyway you can get them. On Saturday, it looked to be another disappointing loss for the Auburn Tigers. A late fourth quarter comeback brought smiles back to the Plains. Auburn defeated the Texas A&M Aggies 28-24, and kept Gus Malzahn’s undefeated record after the bye intact.
Takeaways From Auburn’s 28-24 Comeback Victory
Offensive Struggles Continue
It was not a pretty showing for most of the game for the Auburn offense. Before the final two drives of the game the Tigers had totaled 149 yards of offense. They only had 16 second half yards before the final two drives. The Tigers punted a total of eight times, and went three and out six times on the day. The best drive up to this point was a nine play 80 yard drive that resulted in Jarrett Stidham connecting with Seth Williams on an 11 yard touchdown pass with 4:03 left in the second quarter. This put Auburn up 14-10. The Aggies would then score a touchdown of their own to go up 17-14 at halftime.
Traditionally Auburn has been a running team. Well, this season they have wanted to be that, but the Tigers have struggled to be consistent on the ground. Auburn only totaled 19 yards on 21 carries on the day. This was coming after gaining 269 yards rushing against Ole Miss. Leading rusher JaTarvious Whitlow was hampered by injuries and only rushed for 16 yards on eight carries.
The offense will get a lot of the praise for the comeback. However, the defense made the play to start it. When all Texas A&M needed to do was run the ball and chew up some clock, Jimbo Fisher decided to put the ball in the air. Texas A&M had dominated the line of scrimmage throughout most of the game, and put up 201 rushing yards. The attack was led by Trayveon Williams with his 107 yards and two touchdowns. With 7:14 left in the game, Kellen Mond attempted to hit Quartney Davis on a long out route but was undercut by Auburn’s Noah Igbinoghene in what was the play of the game.
On the following possession Jarrett Stidham hit Darius Slayton three times. That included a 21 yard pass that got Auburn down to the one yard line, and was followed up by a one-yard touchdown run by Chandler Cox to get Auburn within three. Slayton really redeemed himself on this drive after some crucial drops in the game. Including one that could have been a big first half touchdown on a deep pass from Stidham.
When Auburn regained the ball after an Aggie punt with 2:04 left, the offense did not waste any time regaining the lead for the first time since late in the second quarter. Stidham hit Ryan Davis on a short pass the resulted in a 47 yard gain to set up Auburn on the Texas A&M 11. On the next play, Stidham hit Williams for the second touchdown of the day, and put Auburn up 28-24 with 1:41 left. Texas A&M had an opportunity to win the game as time expired, but a pass to Davis from Mond fell short to give Auburn the much needed victory.
Stars of the Game
On this day there were several Tigers that stepped up to help the victory. Stidham was solid and showed everyone why he is a potential high pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Stidham went 18 for 29 with 239 and two touchdowns. The biggest stat here is no turnovers for the junior signal caller. Both Darius Slayton and Ryan Davis stepped up as well. Slayton added in 107 yards on eight catches and Davis threw a 20 yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to Sal Cannella and had 75 yards receiving.
On the defensive side Auburn was led in tackles by Daniel Thomas with 12 and the defense as a whole totaled five sacks and six quarterback hurries.
The Tigers will now go on the road to play the Georgia Bulldogs in the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.” Georgia clinched a berth in the SEC Championship Game with a win over Kentucky on Saturday, and is looking to continue their winning ways and stay one of the top teams for the College Football Playoffs. The Tigers will be looking to play spoiler and ruin the season for the Bulldogs.