Auburn rallied for two fourth-quarter touchdowns to earn two opportunities for game-tying drives before falling to Georgia, 21-14, on Saturday at a sold-out Jordan-Hare Stadium in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.
“I’m extremely proud of our guys’ fight,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “They fought their guts out for Auburn.”
Trailing 21-0 after three quarters, Auburn’s comeback began with Bo Nix’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Eli Stove with 10:04 left in the fourth quarter, capping a 12-play, 75-yard drive.
After a three-and-out by Auburn’s defense, the Tigers offense struck quickly, driving 57 yards on five plays in 68 seconds. Nix’s 2-yard touchdown run, the first rushing TD allowed by Georgia (9-1, 6-1) this season, pulled Auburn within seven points with 7:03 remaining.
Again, the Tigers’ defense came through, forcing a three-and-out to regain possession for Auburn at its 28-yard line with six minutes to play.
“They stuffed them in the fourth quarter and we had the momentum,” Malzahn said. “The crowd was in it.”
On fourth-and-5 from midfield, Nix scrambled for 8 yards to keep Auburn’s hopes alive at Georgia’s 42 but a few plays later, Nix’s pass to Harold Joiner was incomplete, giving the ball back to Georgia.
Once again, Auburn’s defense forced a three-and-out, giving the Tigers’ possession at Auburn’s 30 with 2:03 to play, but the Tigers couldn’t get any closer.
Nix completed 30 of 50 passes for 245 yards and a touchdown while adding 42 rushing yards on 13 carries and another score.
“Bo competed. He’s a winner,” Malzahn said. “He’s a great competitor and he battled. He fought.”
Seth Williams made 13 receptions for 121 yards. Jeremiah Dinson led the defensive effort with eight tackles, while Daniel Thomas made two of Auburn’s five tackles for a loss.
Auburn (7-3, 4-3) trailed 21-0 heading to the fourth quarter after Georgia drove 88 yards on 12 plays, scoring on Jake Fromm’s third touchdown pass, a 5-yarder to Eli Wolf with 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Auburn found success in the first half with slants to Williams. On the game’s opening possession, Nix and Williams teamed up three times for 22 yards, picking up a pair first downs and driving to Georgia’s 29 before the Tigers missed a 47-yard field goal.
Auburn then forced a three-and-out on Georgia’s first possession, but the Bulldogs scored on their second drive on a 51-yard touchdown pass from Jake Fromm to Dominick Blaylock for a 7-0 lead with 5:56 left in the first quarter.
Near the end of the quarter, Auburn defensive linemen Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson made tackles for loss on successive plays, with Brown’s TFL on second-and-10 preceding Davidson’s sack on third-and-12.
Auburn drove again into Georgia territory before being stopped on fourth-and-1 from the 37.
The Tigers’ defense delivered three consecutive three-and-outs, allowing no yards on nine plays.
After the second three-and-out, Nix and Williams connected on another slant for 28 yards, Auburn’s biggest play of the half, advancing to Auburn’s 45. In the half, Williams made seven receptions for 66 yards.
On third-and-9, Nix found Anthony Schwartz for 10 yards to Georgia’s 44, but the Bulldogs recovered a fumble on the next play to end the drive.
Georgia drove 81 yards to take a 14-0 lead on Froom’s 5-yard pass to Brian Herrien with 20 seconds left in the half.
“Really appreciative of our fans,” Malzahn said. “We were down 21-0, didn’t look good and we fought back. We’re disappointed. I think everybody can see we’ve got a good football team. We have great character in our locker room. Our guys are disappointed. They’ll rebound and finish this thing.”