No. 7 Auburn suffered its first loss of the season Saturday as the Tigers dropped a 24-13 contest on the road at No. 10 Florida.
“(It’s a) disappointing loss,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “We’ve got a very disappointed locker room. Our guys fought. Our defense played outstanding, had four turnovers, gave the offense the ball on some short fields. We just didn’t get it done offensively. That starts with me. I have to do a better job of preparing our guys and having our guys ready.”
The Gators struck first with a long touchdown on their first possession, but the Auburn defense responded with three turnovers on the next four Florida drives. Two of the turnovers led to field goals of 48 and 39 yards by Anders Carlson, who made it 7-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Sophomore Christian Tutt forced the first turnover when he sacked Florida quarterback Kyle Trask and jarred the ball loose. Chandler Wooten fell it on it for the for the fumble recovery. It was the first career forced fumble for Tutt and first career fumble recovery for Wooten.
Then, on the very next Florida possession, Auburn linebacker K.J. Britt made a big hit on the running back to pop the ball loose. This time, it was defensive lineman Tyrone Truesdell who came up with it for his second career fumble recovery.
And then with Florida knocking on the door late in the quarter, it was the Auburn defense that came up with yet another fumble and recovery. Senior Marlon Davidson shot off the edge and hit Trask just as he was trying to throw the football. Fellow defensive lineman Derrick Brown picked up the loose ball and returned it 42 yards.
In records dating back through 1996, this was the first game the Tigers have recovered three fumbles in one quarter.
The Auburn offense found the end zone early in the second quarter when, on the first play after a failed fake punt attempt, quarterback Bo Nix connected with Seth Williams on a 32-yard touchdown pass. It was Nix’s eighth touchdown pass this season and the fifth receiving touchdown for Williams, who now has 10 for his career.
Williams led the Tigers with four catches for 79 yards and the touchdown.
Auburn still trailed 17-13 at the half, and it stayed that way for most of the second half until late in the fourth quarter when Florida extended the lead with an 88-yard touchdown run from Lamical Perine.
Prior to that, Brown made another game-changing play early in the fourth quarter when he got to Trask, knocked the ball away and then grabbed it out of the air for his second fumble recovery of the game. The last Auburn player to with two fumble recoveries in a game was Montravius Adams at Mississippi State in 2016.
As a unit, the Auburn defense finished with seven tackles for loss, four sacks and the four fumble recoveries. Sophomore linebacker Zakoby McClain led the way with 10 tackles.
The Tigers are now 5-1 (2-1) heading into an open week then in two weeks, it’s back on the road for another SEC tilt at Arkansas.
“It’s a good time to have a break,” Malzahn said. “We need to get some stuff corrected. We’re going to. This team will respond. We have a bunch of champions in that locker room. They’re going to respond after this week off. We’ll make a run at it in the second half.”