Rapid Reaction: LSU defense overcomes slow start to stifle Auburn in comeback win
Saturday’s matchup in Baton Rouge between the two teams of Tigers turned out to be a good one.
It looked like Auburn was going to run away with the contest before LSU settled in. Auburn began the game on a 20-0 run behind RB Kerryon Johnson and a 49-yard touchdown pass by QB Jarrett Stidham.
The Tigers in blue and orange were rolling right along until LSU finally found some rhythm. LSU scored two touchdowns in the second quarter to make it 23-14 heading into halftime. A rushing touchdown by Stephen Sullivan and a 14-yard pass from Danny Etling to Russell Gage provided the points for LSU.
Both defenses came out focused and prepared to begin the second half. The two teams combined for 94 yards and five punts without a score in the third quarter. The biggest play for Auburn in the third quarter was six yards after posting plays of 20, 25, 49, and 52 yards in the first half.
LSU’s defense allowed the Tigers in purple and gold to get back into the contest, and D.J. Chark provided some fireworks early in the fourth quarter. His 75-yard punt return for a touchdown pulled LSU to within two of Auburn with the score at 23-21. The touchdown swung the momentum in favor of LSU and got the crowd back into the matchup at a crucial moment.
The LSU defense forced Auburn to punt on five straight possessions in the second half, and it was an unbelievable performance after such a disastrous start to the game. LSU was in desperate need of a signature win for head coach Ed Orgeron, and the defense did its part.
LSU QB Danny Etling and RB Derrius Guice started slowly but came up big at crucial moments in the comeback. Etling completed 13 of 24 passes for 206 yards and a TD. Guice carried the ball 20 times for 71 yards. Guice’s numbers may not jump off the page, but his runs helped set up the go-ahead field goal for LSU with 2:36 left in the game.
LSU capped the incredible comeback with two fourth down stops late in the fourth quarter. In the end, the LSU offense managed just two field goals after halftime, but Chark’s punt return and the work by the defense proved enough to knock off the Auburn Tigers by a score of 27-23.
Chark and fellow WR Russell Gage were big contributors for LSU. In addition to his electric punt return touchdown, Chark added five catches for 150. Gage had three catches for 28 yards and a TD and added 71 yards on the ground for the Tigers.
Stidham was impressive for Auburn early on, but the big story was Kerryon Johnson. Johnson was leaned on heavily all afternoon with 31 carries for 156 yards and a TD. Some of Johnson’s best work came out of the Wildcat formation. He looked to be a difference maker before the LSU defense shut him down for much of the second half.
LSU now has its first signature win under Coach O while Auburn will try to figure out where it all went wrong.