All the makings of a great upset were there, but Auburn loses to Georgia late 27-20. The Tigers forced two turnovers and rushed for 219 yards in the game. The quarterback run game really gave the Georgia defense issues with Payton Thorne and Robby Ashford going for 125 combined. The passing game however struggled again. It was the sixth straight game against a power five opponent in which they were unable to pass for over 100 yards. Thorne was 10 of 19 for 92 yards, and Ashford was one of one for six. It was another good game for Eugene Asante with seven tackles, and upfront Marcus Harris had the same.
The passing attack was not an issue for Georgia. First-year starter Carson Beck passed for 313 yards and one touchdown. His connection with tight end Brock Bowers proved to be the difference in the second half with the Tigers unable to cover him. This is the seventh consecutive win for Georgia in the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry”, and tenth in 11 tries.
Auburn Loses to Georgia Late 27-20
Fast Start for Auburn
After both teams were forced to punt on their opening possessions, Auburn started on their own six-yard line. On second and nine, Thorne took an outside run 61 yards to the Georgia 30. After a Thorne incomplete pass on first down, running back Jarquez Hunter would rush for 13 yards to get Auburn into the red zone at the 17. It looked like the Tigers were primed to put six on the board, but the drive stalled out. They settled for a 27-yard field goal by Alex McPherson with 6:04 in the first quarter to go up 3-0.
The defense would make a big play on the next Georgia drive. Beck tried to connect with Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, but Jaylin Simpson had other ideas. He stepped in front of Rosemy-Jacksaint and beat him to the ball for the interception. It was his fourth of the season. Auburn had the ball at midfield with 5:44 in the first.
The turnover would result in points and a Hunter touchdown to put Auburn up 10-0 with two minutes left in the first. Hunter scored on a five-yard touchdown. He had just run for 14 the play prior and was set up by a pass interference call on Georgia. Another key play was when head coach Hugh Freeze decided to gamble on a fourth and two that was converted on a Throne run play.
Georgia Fights Back
The Bulldogs would respond to the 10-0 deficit early in the second quarter to make it 10-7. The Tigers had a chance to force a field goal at the 13 when Georgia faced a third and seven. Asante blitzed up the middle, but Beck got rid of the ball as he was being hit. He found Rara Thomas over the middle to get a first down. A few plays later Daijun Edwards would run it in for a two-yard score with 11:50 in the quarter.
After another Auburn punt, it would be more of the same for the Georgia offense. They went on a 10-play, 61-yard drive but the Tigers’ defense held on to force a 37-yard field goal by Peyton Woodring. The key plays for Auburn were back-to-back breakups against Bowers by Zion Puckett and Simpson.
The Auburn offense had success on the following drive mixing the pass and the run. The drive saw the Tigers get to the Georgia 12, but on two straight plays just needing one yard they could not gain a first down. The Tigers went shotgun on both plays with handoffs to Hunter and were stuffed on both plays. Perhaps going under the center would have been the better option. Hunter, Brian Battie, and Ashford combined for 36 yards on the drive. Thorne had a big pass play to Camden Brown for 14 yards early in the drive.
Even in the Third
The second half started in a big way for the Auburn Tigers’ defense. On the first play, Beck found tight end Oscar Delp for seven yards, but he lost the ball. Auburn’s Jalen McLeod recovered the ball to give them possession at the Georgia 25. The Tigers went with Ashford at quarterback and three plays later he found the endzone on a nine-yard touchdown run. The Tigers regained the lead 17-10 with 13:31 in the third.
Auburn held that lead for most of the third quarter and had opportunities to perhaps increase the lead. Georgia would go on a championship-level drive toward the end of the quarter to tie the game at 17. The Bulldogs went on a 10-play, 98-yard drive that was capped off by a 13-yard touchdown run by Edwards with 1:03 left in the third. The play prior set up the score when Beck connected with Bowers for a 29-yard reception. Ladd McConkey and Rara Thomas had catches of 12 and 14 yards on third downs to keep the drive alive. This was the first game of the season for McConkey.
Bowers Takes Over
After Auburn was once again unable to gain a first down on short yardage, they were forced to punt. Oscar Chapman pinned the Bulldogs inside the ten again, and this time at the nine. On first down at the 14:34 mark, Beck found Bowers for a 37-yard play. That combo was not done. Three plays later they connected on third and nine for 28 yards to get into Auburn territory. Bowers had hauled in another catch of 15 yards, but it was called back due to an illegal touching by Bowers. The Bulldogs only got a 38-yard field goal by Woodring. That gave them a 20-17 lead with under 11 minutes left.
Auburn returned the favor and found points by way of a field goal. McPherson connected on 42 yards with 6:21 left to tie the game at 20. It was the first drive of the game for Auburn that favored the passing game. Two key plays were on a pass interference call when Thorne tried to hit Jay Fair, and a first down throw to tight end Rivaldo Fairweather. The tight end had a shot to get Auburn inside the five, but could not hold onto the ball.
The theme of the second half continued. Auburn could not cover Brock Bowers. On the following possession, he had clutch catches including a 40-yard touchdown to put the Bulldogs up 27-20 with 2:52 remaining. That was the eighth catch for Bowers, and 157 yards after the score. The pressure was now on Auburn. On second and 10, Thorne found Fairweather for 22 yards to get the Tigers near midfield. After only gaining one yard, and two incompletions they faced a fourth and nine. Thorne tried to complete over the middle but was picked off by Malaki Starks with 1:28 left. That clinched the game for the defending champions. Auburn loses to Georgia late 27-20.