LSU rallies late, scores huge win over Auburn
Someday 30 years from now, a father will take his young son to an LSU/Auburn game in Tiger Stadium.
While walking from the parking lot to the stadium, the dad will tell the tale of what happened in the 2017 rendition of this storied SEC rivalry.
Baby, what a game!
LSU rallied past Auburn 27-23 on Saturday afternoon in Tiger Stadium, overcoming an early 20-0 hole to push past their longtime rivals.
With the win, LSU is now 5-2 overall and 2-1 in SEC play. LSU also extended a long, lengthy winning streak they own over Auburn in Tiger Stadium, which dates back to 1999.
It also gives coach Ed Orgeron a signature win to hang his hat on after a rocky start to the 2017 season.
“This crowd was electric today,” Orgeron said. “This was everything you dream about with LSU football. It was a total team effort. … Our leaders were out there making big plays.”
Auburn almost won this fight via a first-round knockout.
They dominated the first quarter, keeping LSU on its heels and the Tiger Stadium crowd complete silent.
Auburn scored 10 points in the first three and a half minutes of the game – first on a long field goal from Daniel Carlson and next on a long pass from Jarrett Stidham to Will Hastings, which put them up 10-0 still early in the first quarter.
It got worse before it got better for LSU.
Auburn forced a stop, then went 81 yards in eight plays – a drive capped by a short touchdown run from Kerryon Johnson, which made the score 17-0. After another stop, Carlson hit again to put Auburn up 20-0 early in the second quarter.
After that, the rest of this tale is all for LSU.
The Tigers controlled the line of scrimmage for the rest of the second half, which allowed them to hit some big plays against Auburn’s defense to get back in the game.
LSU’s first score capped a 90-yard drive – a fourth down jet sweep run from Stephen Sullivan, which cut Auburn’s lead to 20-7.
Auburn added a short field goal with 2:16 to go in the half, but LSU took momentum for good before halftime on a two-minute touchdown drive capped on a gorgeous touchdown pass from quarterback Danny Etling to Russell Gage – one of the best catches a football fan will see all year. That score sent the game to halftime with Auburn up just 23-14 – far tighter than their early 20-point lead.
“LSU kept fighting,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “We had a strong start, but we didn’t sustain it. It was a tough finish for our kids.”
LSU gained 363 yards in the win, despite starting three freshmen on their offensive line.
Orgeron credited offensive coordinator Matt Canada on keeping the Tigers ahead of the chains and moving the football down the field.
“Matt did a tremendous job of calling our plays tonight,” Orgeron said. “That was excellent.”
At halftime, LSU honored the 2007 BCS National Championship Team, which drew a huge ovation from the crowd.
Former coach Les Miles got the biggest pop of anyone, as he hoisted the BCS National Championship Trophy in the air for the crowd.
When the ball was back in play, LSU won a dramatic one – just like the Mad Hatter had done countless times before.
LSU’s defense stiffened in the second half, allowing Auburn next to no yardage and countless three and out drives.
After one of the defensive stops, LSU found lightning in a bottle – a dazzling 75-yard punt return from DJ Chark, which brought the score to 23-21.
After several possession changes, LSU grab control of field position, forcing Auburn to punt the football out of their end zone, which set up LSU on a short field.
With it, the Tigers got a few first downs – enough to get a successful 42-yard field goal from Connor Culp with 2:36 to go, which put LSU ahead 24-23.
Still needing a little wizardry from their defense, LSU forced a quick turnover on downs, which set up Culp for another kick, which sent the game to its final score.
Auburn had one last gasp at redemption, but it failed when Arden Key stuffed Stidham, which gave LSU the football back in the victory formation.
“Dave Aranda was on fire tonight,” Orgeron said of his defensive coordinator. “Those guys were outstanding.”
Orgeron said he’s proud of how LSU competed when behind – especially considering the rough start to the season for the young team.
After the win, the first-year coach aggressively deflected talks of this game being a signature win, quickly stating that he’s proud of his team for their effort in a big-time win.
“I knew our guys would fight,” Orgeron said.
That they did.
And another chapter in the LSU/Auburn rivalry was etched in stone in the process.