Rapid Reaction: Auburn holds off Washington in battle of AP top 10s
ATLANTA — The Tigers opened their 126th football season with a hard-fought 21-16 victory over Washington in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Ranked No. 9 in the AP Preseason Poll, Auburn used a defensive stand to thwart the final drive of the No. 6 Huskies in the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
JaTarvious Whitlow ran 10 yards for a touchdown to cap a 10-play, 76-yard march and give the Tigers the lead for good with 6:15 to play in the game. A 2-point conversion try failed.
Washington kicker Peyton Henry gave the Huskies a 16-15 lead in the first minute of the fourth quarter with a 30-yard field goal that bounced off the right upright but stayed between the posts.
The Tigers grabbed an early 9-0 lead after just two possessions and had an opportunity to score in every first-half possession before settling for a 15-13 lead at halftime.
Anders Carlson booted first-half field goals of 32, 28 and 53 yards after Jarrett Stidham got the Tigers on the scoreboard initially with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Sal Cannella, capping their initial drive. A two-point conversion try failed.
Ryan Davis set up the Tigers in excellent field position with a 32-yard punt return.
Auburn scored first in 12 of 14 games last season and put points on the board in their opening drive in 10 games last season.
A Jamel Dean interception put the Tigers in range for Carlson’s first field goal and a 9-0 lead.
Carlson missed on a 33-yard field goal attempt and Washington rallied from a 12-3 deficit, closing the gap just before halftime with a 4-play, 75-yard drive. Huskies quarterback Jake Browning threw 13 yards to Quinten Pounds for the score.
It was Auburn’s third straight game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium after losses to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game and UCF in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl last season. And it was also their fifth game against an AP Top 10 team over the last six contests, tying a school record.