|Chris Jackson's 44-yard field goal forced overtime.|
BATON ROUGE -- Saturday's nail-chewing, heart straining, gut-wrencher in Tiger Stadium gave two field goal kickers chances to find redemption.
LSU's Chris Jackson ultimately left the field elated. Auburn's John Vaughn did not. And it was Vaughn's inability to find the space between the uprights that cost his team a chance to win and gave 92,664 mostly purple and gold clad fans a chance to celebrate a 20-17 overtime victory for LSU.
Vaughn attempted to tie the game on Auburn's first offensive possession of the overtime period when he lined up to kick a 39-yarder into the north endzone. But the attempt bounced high off the left upright and the LSU crowd and team erupted while the ball fell gingerly to the turf. Vaughn missed five field goals during the game including a 49-yard attempt with 2 seconds remaining in the contest that would have given Auburn a much needed win to stay in contention for the Southeastern Conference's western division crown.
Jackson missed a field goal early in the contest as well, as did LSU's other place kicker Colt David, but he was able to make the two biggest kicks of the game, the first a 44-yarder with 1:10 to play in regulation and the 30-yarder in overtime that proved to be the game winner.
LSU's win put them squarely behind Alabama in the west division race after the Crimson Tide claimed a slight 6-3 win over Tennessee earlier in the day. It also furthered the anticipated showdown between the Tigers and the Tide in Tuscaloosa Nov. 12. LSU's overall record improved to 5-1, 4-1 in the SEC, while Auburn slipped to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the league.
LSU lead most of the game despite trailing statistically for most of the contest. The hometown Tigers gave up 230 yards rushing to the visiting Tigers, 218 of them to Kenny Irons, the most yards surrendered to one rusher since Bama's Shaun Alexander piled up 291 in a 26-0 tromping of LSU in 1996. But, it was Aburn's inability to make points out of five trips across midfield that was its undoing.
Auburn amassed 451 yards of offense, LSU, just 339. Auburn's passing game proved superior as well, yardage wise while being a bit less efficient. Brandon Cox threw for 221 yards and a touchdown, competing 16 out of 40 attempts and one enormous, late touchdown. LSU's JaMarcus Russell had 16 completions too, on 33 attempts and a touchdown.
LSU held a tenuous 14-10 lead with 4:52 remaining in the contest and Auburn facing a 4th-and-goal at the LSU 5-yard line. Cox called for the ball and calmly retreated far enough from the LSU rush to find a leaping Anthony Mix in the back of the endzone to give The Plainsmen a 17-14 advantage.
The hometown Tigers responded with an eight-play, 48-yard drive that set up Jackson's tying field goal with 1:40 to play and Auburn without timeouts.
LSU held the first possession in overtime and could have scored a touchdown when Russell found two LSU receivers standing alone in the middle of the endzone. But, Craig Davis and Early Doucet ran into each other causing the ball to deflect from Doucet's hands and fall harmlessly to the turf. Jackson kicked the ultimate game-winner on the next play and Auburn took the field for the resulting heartbreak.
Auburn claimed the opening kick and drove the ball straight down the field thanks in large part to a 26-yard completion from Cox to Mix that set The Plainsmen up with a first down at the LSU 32, six plays into the drive. Auburn eventually advanced to the 20 but the drive was stalled by a Tiger blitz that recorded a sack and forced Cox to throw an ugly incompletion at the 24.
Vaughn aimed to give the visitors an early 3-0 lead, but his 41-yard field goal try sailed wide right with 8:52 remaining in the first quarter and LSU took over at the Auburn 25.
Auburn claimed possession again, after LSU's first offensive possession was largely unsuccessful. But, the visiting Tiger's second chance ended after just three plays, setting up the chance for one of the most exciting players in college football to execute arguably the most exciting play in college football.
Last week, Florida consciously punted away from Tiger kick return extraordinaire Skyler Green, knowing his ability to change the game on one simple play. Auburn employed no such strategy as the first punt of the game from Cody Bliss landed firmly in Green's hands and he promptly returned it untouched 66 yards for the game's first touchdown. The extra point by David gave LSU a 7-0 with 5:20 left in the first quarter.
Auburn responded by moving the ball on the ground to midfield. The drive stalled again though after cornerback Ronnie Prude deflected a third down pass attempt and Bliss was forced to punt again, this time bouncing a low-tumbling kick out of bounds away from Green at the LSU 18.
LSU's chance petered out after just three plays and Cox came out firing, launching a 31-yard strike to a diving Devin Aromashodu along the east sideline on the drive's first play. But, Auburn's offense sputtered six plays later at the 10 when Cox overthrew Aromashodu in the endzone forcing Vaughn on to the field to boot a 26-yard field goal that sailed true into the south endzone stands. LSU's lead was cut to 7-3 with 12:49 remaining in the half.
The hometown Tigers took control at their 20 to start the next drive and embarked on a 13-play drive that consumed the lion's share of the second quarter. But, all that hard work was for naught when the drive stalled at the Auburn 21-yard line and Jackson pushed a 38-yard field goal attempt wide left.
Auburn lost three yards on the ensuing possession and Bliss was called on again to punt to Green. This time, however, the Tiger returner was corralled after he reclaimed a muff of the kick at the LSU 33.
Two incomplete passes and a 2-yard loss on a Russell to Green attempt composed LSU's next possession and Jackson kicked away again, setting up a first down for Auburn at its 34. Auburn's drive was just one yard more successful than LSU's and Bliss punted again, this time over Green's head on a 63-yard boomer that landed out of bounds at the LSU 4-yard line.
Tailback Joseph Addai, who led the LSU rushing attack with 105 yards on 24 carries, bowled through the stingy Auburn defense for a couple of first downs but the drive ended due largely to two false start penalties that resulted in a 3rd-and-20 for LSU at its 21. Jackson punted and gave Auburn the ball back at its 36 with 28 seconds to play and no timeouts. The half ended on a five-yard draw play near the Auburn 40-yard line.
LSU's slumbering offense was again unable to pick up a first down and punted the opening possession of the second half to Auburn. The visitors responded by executing a nine-play, 22-yard drive that moved the ball to the LSU 25. But Auburn took a big step backwards on an intentional grounding penalty caused by defensive tackle Kyle Williams at the 39 on second down before Cox was sacked by Ryan Willis on third down. Vaughn attempted a 53-yard field goal that landed deep in the south endzone and LSU took over at its 37 with 9:46 left in the third.
Again Russell and LSU's offense looked inept and four plays later the ball laid in Auburn's hands. One play was all the visiting Tigers needed after reclaiming possession to take the lead. Irons bolted through the LSU defense for a 74-yard touchdown run that put LSU behind for the first time in the game. The lightning strike gave Auburn a 10-7 lead with 7:48 to play in the third.
Addai, Russell and Davis guided the Tigers into scoring position. Addai picked up two first downs on the ground before Russell scrambled left for long enough to find Davis behind the defense 41 yard down the field. That set up an 18-yard touchdown pass, two plays later, from Russell to Dwayne Bowe standing wide open in the north endzone. David's extra point put the hometown Tigers up again, this time 14-10 with 4:35 to play in the third quarter after a seven-play, 80-yard drive.
LSU's defense borrowed some the offensive momentum and stopped Auburn at the 29-yard line on the ensuing possession. LSU's awakened offense moved the ball down the field again thanks again to Davis who hauled in an 18-yard reception and a costly personal foul against Auburn. But, the drive eventually proved disappointing as Bowe dropped a sure touchdown sliding wide open in the endzone and David missed a 28-yard field goal try wide right with 14:04 remaining in the game.
Auburn responded by slamming through LSU's defensive front with Iron's legs, moving the ball all the way to the LSU 20 with help from a 36-yard run by the Auburn tailback. Auburn stopped moving the ball on the drive's ninth play and Vaughn entered to try a 37-yard field goal that could have cut the LSU lead to one point. But, Vaughn did his best imitation of David and Jackson and missed the attempt wide left.
LSU took over at its 20 with 11:21 to play but failed to pick up the first down, forcing Jackson to pin Auburn deep in its territory after a holding penalty during the return. Auburn's chance started at its 13. Cox and Irons mixed in passes and runs well to move the ball to the Tiger 5-yard line. LSU pushed the drive to 4th-and-goal, but were unable to stop Cox from finding Mix leaping deep in the endzone for a touchdown reception. Vaughn's extra point put Auburn up 17-14 with 4:52 to play after an impressive 13-play, 87-yard drive.
But LSU drove back down the field in response setting up Jackson's redemption song, a 44-yard field goal to tie the game and force it into overtime.
LSU Game Notes
1. LSU's game captains are 31 Jessie Daniels, 41 Chris Jackson and 44 Kevin Steltz.
2. LSU won the toss and deferred to the second half. Auburn received the opening kickoff.
3. Tigers extending their consecutive starts' streak today were: OT Andrew Whitworth (45), FS LaRon Landry (26) and DT Kyle Williams (26), LB Cameron Vaughn (18) and SS Jessie Daniels (18).
4. LSU extended its sack streak to 43 straight games with a sack on Auburn QB Brandon Cox by DT Claude Wroten early in the second quarter.
5. Skyler Green's punt return for a touchdown was the seventh different way of scoring a touchdown this season. LSU has scored on a pass play, a run, an interception return, a fumble return, a blocked field goal return and a blocked punt return.
6. Tonight's attendance of 92,664 is the largest crowd in Tiger Stadium history.
7. With the score tied at 17 at the end of regulation, it marked the fifth overtime in Tiger Stadium history and the second of the season. Tennessee defeated LSU, 30-27, in overtime on Sept. 26.
8. Auburn won the toss in overtime and deferred to the second possession.
9. LSU improved to 4-2 in overtime in its history. LSU had previously owned wins in overtime against Tennessee (Sept. 30, 2000), Mississippi State (Oct. 21, 2000) and Oregon State (Sept. 4, 2004).
10. LSU earned its third win over a ranked opponent this season. The Tigers' other ranked wins came against No. 15 Arizona State (Sept. 10) and No. 11/13 Florida (Oct. 15).
a. The three wins over ranked opponents are the most by an LSU team at this point in the season since 1987. In 1987, LSU won over No. 10 Texas A&M (Sept. 3), No. 19 Florida (Oct. 3) and No. 16 Georgia (Oct. 10).
11. LSU extended its win streak over Auburn in Tiger Stadium to three games. The Tigers haven't lost to Auburn at home since 1999.
12. LSU improved to 4-1 in the SEC for the third time in the past four seasons.
13. OT Andrew Whitworth started his 45th straight game, moving the senior into fourth-place on LSU's all-time starts list. The career record is held by Jerel Myers and Rodney Reed with 48 starts.
14. WR/RS Skyler Green returned the first punt of the game 66 yards for a touchdown with 5:20 left in the first half. The return for a touchdown was Green's fourth of his career and the first this season. The four punt returns for touchdowns is a school record.
a. With Green's 66-yard return in the first quarter, the senior move into second-place on LSU's career punt return yards list. He passed Eddie Kennison (947 yards). Green finished the game with 973 career punt return yards and is 153 yards away from tying the school record of 1,126 set by Domanick Davis (1999-2002).
15. With Joseph Addai's 4-yard reception late in the first quarter, the senior has now collected at least one reception in 14 straight games.
a. Addai also went over the 100-yard rushing mark for the fifth time in his career and the fourth time this season. Addai finished the game with 105 yards on 24 carrries.
16. With a tackle in the first quarter DT Kyle Williams and FS LaRon Landry extended their tackles in consecutive games streak. They each have now made a tackle in 32 straight games.
17. WR Craig Davis pulled in a pass midway into the second quarter to extend his consecutive games with a reception streak to 16 (games in which he has played).
a. Davis' 68 receiving yards is a season-high, tying his 68 yards against Tennessee.
18. WR Dwayne Bowe pulled down his fifth touchdown of the season and the 10th of his career on an 18-yard reception with 4:35 left in the third quarter. Bowe has now caught at least one touchdown in four straight games.
19. QB JaMarcus Russell tossed his eighth touchdown of the season and 17th of his career on an 18-yard pass to Dwayne Bowe late in the third quarter.
Auburn Game Notes
Auburn Team Notes
Auburn Individual Notes
LSU head coach Les Miles
"We started off with a Skyler Green punt return for a touchdown that gave us the early lead. We played well on defense and played well enough on offense to win. We didn't have any turnovers and were not penalized severely. We improved and played well enough to win on special teams. It was a team victory. Offense, defense and special teams all contributed to this victory. It's what we needed. We beat a good team, maybe the best of all teams that we've faced. I like our position in the conference and I like where we're at. We just need to improve. Certainly we'd like to make a couple of those field goals and not dropped a ball or two and not make this such a nail-biter. But we found a way to win, and that's the story."
On Kenny Irons' rushing...
"Irons is a good back, and that offensive line is a very physical group. They played extremely well."
On if he thinks Bowe's dropped ball or the second missed field goal would have put the game away...
"Putting it away is all speculation. To see how they would have responded, who knows? I can tell you this, if we get the touchdown there, I don't think they'll score that many points against our defense. They key is that no matter to what extent we played close to our opponent, we still found a way to win in this game. I was glad to see Chris Jackson come in there and kick it to win it. I was glad to see our defense step up and stop them. I thought Joseph Addai rushed the ball extremely hard. JaMarcus Russell is playing with a little bit of a dinged arm, and he played well. He fought with courage in him."
LSU Offensive Player Quotes
On the game...
"Both teams fought hard on offense defense and special teams. It was just one of those SEC type games."
On his emotions after missing the two field goals...
"It's like everything else. If you mess up you have to wipe your slate clean and try to the best the next time you go out there."
On his thoughts going into overtime...
"I knew the offense was going to put me in a position to score. The defense came up big and forced the field goal left."
On the LSU, Auburn series...
"It's always a dog fight any time Auburn comes here are we go there. We're always fighting tooth and nail for every inch."
WR Dwayne Bowe
On his dropped touchdown pass...
"I had to get it out of the way early. Every great player drops a touchdown pass. I'm just happy I got mine out of the way early. That will be the last one guaranteed."
On his feelings when Vaughn missed the last field goal...
"It was a relief to me. If I had caught that touchdown pass I could have sealed the victory. When that kicker missed it I almost cried. I'm just glad we came out with a victory."
On LSU overcoming mistakes...
"No matter what mistakes we make we always find a way to overcome them. We just have to improve each week."
QB JaMarcus Russell
On his arm...
"It felt great in warm-ups and it felt good during the game, but I guess the ball was coming out different. A lot of the players said they could see the ball coming out differently."
On LSU's special teams...
"We need to do our jobs a little better. We try to get ourselves in a good position to score a touchdown, but if we can't we know the special teams has our back."
LSU Defensive Player Quotes
On a good old fashioned SEC football game...
"Oh it was definitely a hard core game, finally a team that was going to run the ball and they were not going to give up on it like a lot of other teams did. They tried and we came to play."
On playing a team like Auburn...
"Definitely. There's always so m uch emotion in an LSU-Auburn game and that is the kind of high intensity game you want to play in college."
"Overtime always makes you nervous, but I definitely felt confidence in our offense and really felt confidence in our defense so I knew we would get the job done."
On a good old fashioned SEC football game...
"It came down to the wire and that's they way we like it, well, that's not the way we like it but when it comes down to the wire that's the way we like it to end up, and we just fought hard and kept playing hard."
On overtime bringing on nerves...
"It does, but I had all the confidence that we were going to come out on top. I knew our offense was either going to kick a field goal or score. I thought we were going to score , but defense came out and responded and did the job."
Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville
"We played a good football game, we just came out a little bit short. Our defense played hard, we just didn’t do anything with our kicking game. It let us down at times, that's my fault. We must not have worked enough on it, but we will work on it."
On offensive performance...
"We hung in there. That is the best defense we have played and we moved the ball. We had opportunities, we just didn’t take advantage. But they are a good team. We fought the crowd noise, I thought that our guys hung in there mentally, and that’s what its all about on the road. We just came up a little short."
On kicking game...
"You got to be able to get it through there at times, but that is football. You have got to execute and tonight the kicking game wasn’t there for us. They ran that punt back, we made a mistake but that’s part of it."
On running game...
"We did pretty good, I thought that we ran the ball well at times. I mean, they are a good defense, and we had four-hundred and fifty yards total on offense, normally you win when you do that. We bogged down, we tried field goals at times, and we just didn’t make them."
Auburn PK John Vaughn
On the wind factor...
"As a kicker you have to kick in the wind. They had to kick in the wind, too. I just got to work harder."
On his field goals tonight...
"The last kick in the game, I was just trying to hit it and get it there. I didn't make one that long in warm ups, so I just had to hit it hard and hope I got lucky. The one in overtime I just yanked it a little bit and it came out a little bit left."
On unfortunate misses tonight...
"About three of the kicks tonight, when I hit them I thought they were good. I got a little unlucky and they went right or left. The last one tonight, I thought I hit it pretty good and when I looked up I knew I was probably going to need a little bit of luck right here."
Auburn Offensive Player Quotes
QB Brandon Cox
On the atmosphere in tiger stadium...
"Loud crowd, we couldn't hear out there. We played a good game but we just couldn't come out on top."
On the defensive pressure by LSU...
"They came out and blitzed almost every play. We moved the ball great, offensively we had a lot of yards we just stalled whenever we got near the goal line. We just couldn't punch it in."
RB Kenny Irons
On his frustration...
"The crowd noise affected us. We fought, everybody fought. It's just hard we tried to put it in but they have a great defense."
On the mistakes...
"We can't blame it on one person. Everybody made mistakes. We just have to keep our heads up and get ready for next week."
On his performance...
"Offensive line did a great job. Running behind those guys is easy. I am already in the secondary because they block so well."