The 93 points scored in Saturday’s Iron Bowl are the most Alabama and Auburn have combined for in the series in games played at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The previous high was 62 in 2013.
On the sixth anniversary of Chris Davis’ Iron Bowl winning kick return, No. 16 Auburn returned two interceptions for touchdowns, Anders Carlson kicked four long field goals and Shaun Shivers scored the game-winning touchdown in a back-and-forth 48-45 victory over No. 5 Alabama.
The Crimson Tide is now 10-2 overall and 6-2 in Southeastern Conference play, while the Tigers go to 9-3 and 5-3 in the SEC.
“Big win for us,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “So proud of our team. We hung in there, found a way to win at the end. Just an electric environment. So thankful for our fans. This is the best atmosphere in college football.”
Smoke Monday and Zakoby McClain both returned interceptions to put the Tigers in front, but each time the visitors responded with quick touchdowns in a game that featured 11 lead changes.
After Jaylen Waddle’s fourth touchdown — a career high — gave Alabama a 45-40 lead early in the fourth quarter, Auburn answered with a 77-yard game-winning drive, with Shivers crashing in on a sweep from the 11 for the go-ahead score. Bo Nix passed to Shedrick Jackson to put Auburn on top 48-45 with 8:08 remaining.
“I made a big play at the end of the game,” Shivers said. “It’s a big thing because it’s the Iron Bowl — the best rivalry in college football. This goes down in the book. Everybody will be talking about this for years.”
There was still work to do. Alabama drove to Auburn’s 10 before a potential game-tying 30-yard field goal attempt bounced off the upright with two minutes to play.
Needing one first down to run out the clock, the Tigers confused Alabama on fourth down by lining up Arryn Siposs at receiver with the regular offensive unit, resulting in an illegal substitution penalty on UA that effectively secured the win.
“Our seniors, we talked about leaving a legacy for those guys,” Malzahn said. “They left a great memory for them, something they can hold onto for the rest of their lives with the Auburn family.”
Auburn trailed 31-27 after a wild first half. After an early Alabama field goal, Christian Tutt’s 36-yard punt return set up Bo Nix’s 7-yard touchdown run with 2:07 left in the first quarter.
After Najee Harris’ 6-yard TD run put Alabama ahead 10-7, Carlson kicked his first field goal, a 43-yarder, to tie it at 10-10. Alabama’s ground game was paced by Harris, who led both teams with 146 rushing yards on 27 attempts and scored once while adding 26 receiving yards on four catches. Harris is the only Alabama rusher to go over the century mark this season.
Playing centerfield, Monday intercepted an overthrown pass, returning it 29 yards to give Auburn a 17-10 lead with 5:36 left in the half.
Waddle returned the ensuing kick 98 yards to even the score at 17-17, then after an Auburn fumble, Alabama took a 24-17 lead on a 3-yard touchdown pass with 4:12 to go. Waddle’s play was Alabama’s first kickoff return for a score since Josh Jacobs’ 77-yard return against Louisville on Sept. 1, 2018.
Auburn drove 75 yards, with Seth Williams, Will Hastings and Sal Cannella all making higlight-reel catches on the left sideline. Cannella’s 14-yard touchdown catch again evened the score at 24-24 with 1:06 remaining in the half.
Alabama’s offense — which recorded 515 yards — was led by redshirt sophomore Mac Jones. The quarterback, making his third start of the year, set a career high with 26-of-39 for 335 yards and four touchdowns to go with two interceptions. Alabama junior wide receiver Henry Ruggs III paced all receivers with 99 yards on six catches and added one touchdown.
Waddle’s second touchdown, a 58-yard reception, put Alabama back on top 31-24 with only 33 seconds left in the half, but Auburn drove to the 34 with one second left, allowing Carlson to drill a 52-yarder to make it 31-27 as the half expired.
“That’s something we practice so much,” Carlson said. “We call it whistle kick. We were ready for it and I’m glad we got a chance.”
Carlson connected from 43 yards early in the third quarter to pull the Tigers within one point at 31-30.
Alabama drove to Auburn’s 2-yard line, but Zakoby McClain intercepted a tipped pass in the end zone and returned it 100 yards to give Auburn a 37-31 lead.
Waddle’s third touchdown, a 12-yarder, regained the lead for Alabama at 38-37 with 4:57 to go in the third quarter.
Carlson’s fourth field goal, a 44-yarder, gave Auburn the lead once more at 40-38 with 49 seconds left in the third quarter.
“It’s awesome to help out the team,” Carlson said. “To play a small part in that, it’s such a special game, it’s incredible.”
Waddle scored again early in the fourth quarter on a 28-yard pass to give Alabama a 45-40 lead, setting the stage for Shivers’ game-winning score on an 11-play drive that consumed five and a half minutes.
“We’ve got a chance to win 10 games,” Malzahn said. “That’s a really good accomplishment, especially with the schedule we’ve played.”