In the end, Missouri could not quite cross the plane on The Plains, and lost 17-14 at Auburn in overtime Saturday.
Missouri tailback Nathaniel Peat was about to score on a 20-yard run in overtime for a 21-17 win, but he dropped the ball in the end zone just before crossing the goal line. Auburn safety Cayden Bridges jumped on the ball in the end zone for the touchback and the win.
“That’s a great way to put it,” Auburn coach Bryan Harsin said. “You do defend every blade of grass. And you play every play, and that was a really big message we had the entire week. We found a way. I’m proud of our guys having that mentality.”
Auburn Is Now 3-1 Overall
The Tigers (1-0 Southeastern Conference) appeared on the verge of an exasperating loss throughout the end of regulation and the overtime. It blew a chance for a go-ahead field goal late in the fourth quarter by going for it on fourth down at the Missouri 29 and not making it. Then it watched Missouri kicker Harrison Mevis miss a 29-yard field goal as time expired in the fourth quarter.
Auburn kicker Anders Carlson kicked a 29-yard field goal for a 17-14 lead in the first possession of overtime after he missed from 34 yards away, but Missouri was offside. Thank you, said Auburn, for yet another chance. Then Auburn watched as Peat clearly looked touchdown bound until the last second and last blade.
“Just to come so close and to lose that way, really twice, is devastating for our locker room and our coaches,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said as his team fell to 2-2 and 0-1 in the SEC. “Those are hard to take.”
Drinkwitz saw how close Peat came to scoring.
“I just saw the replay, and it looked like he was positioning to reach the ball out and it slipped,” he said.
Auburn kept it together after losing junior starting center Tate Johnson to an injury, and its offensive line was already weak. Senior Jalil Irvin replaced him.
“We just stayed together,” new starting quarterback Robby Ashford said. “Jalil was prepared. He made all good snaps. We wanted to go out there and play for each other.”
Ashford, a redshirt freshman transfer from Oregon, replaced TJ Finley, who missed the game with a shoulder injury. His backup was freshman Holden Geriner because Texas A&M transfer Zach Calzada was lost for the season last week when it was decided that he would have shoulder surgery.
Geriner got his first action of the season when Ashford went down briefly with a shoulder injury. Geriner was 2-of-3 passing for eight yards and was sacked twice Ashford finished 12-of-18 passing for 127 yards and rushed 15 times for 46 yards with a touchdown. He expects to play Saturday against LSU.
Auburn Should Have Their QB Ready To Roll
“I’ll be back for next week,” Ashford said. “It’s my birthday Saturday. No way, I will not play.”
Ashford credited Auburn’s defense.
“They played their butts off,” he said. “There’s no other way to put it.”
Auburn held Missouri scoreless in the second half and overtime after Missouri tied the game 14-14 at the half. In a 41-12 loss to Penn State last week, Auburn was outscored 27-6 in the second half.
“We were embarrassed last week,” Ashford said. “We hated it. We had to flush it. We never gave up this week. We did last week. We went in the tank.”
Suddenly, Auburn has momentum with LSU (3-1, 1-0 SEC) coming Saturday for a 7 p.m. game in Auburn on ESPN. LSU defeated New Mexico, 38-0, Saturday.
“Let’s redo it all over again next week,” defensive end Derick Hall said. “But I know LSU is a really good team. We’ll enjoy this today. Their quarterback (Jayden Daniels) is really good – mobile guy. He’ll find holes in your defense. But this team, we really needed this win. It showed us what we’re all about.”
A repeat of the craziness from both sides in this one will be hard to duplicate.
“You’re up one minute,” Hall said. “You’re down one minute. They miss a field goal. You don’t know what’s going on. They’re about to score a touchdown, but they don’t. Unbelievable.”