Missed opportunities get best of Auburn, fall to LSU 12-10

By Ali Jenkins

Missed opportunities get best of Auburn, fall to LSU 12-10

Auburn’s last minute drive to steal a miracle upset ended with a fourth-down interception by LSU cornerback Tharold Simon to seal the No. 2 Bayou Bengals’ 12-10 victory at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The loss marks the first time in Auburn football history that a team has lost three games in September.

“We didn’t finish, but there will be a day when we will,” said coach Gene Chizik. “We’ll continue to grind and work till we can.”

At the 8:21 mark in the first, LSU was looking to jumpstart its offense and cash in on an 11-play drive. On third-and-one on the Auburn 2-yard line, quarterback Zach Mettenberger fumbled; Auburn recovered.

But despite the momentum change, it was LSU who lit up the scoreboard first. As the Tigers were trying to find an offensive rhythm, defensive end Sam Montgomery tackled sophomore running back Tre Mason in the end zone to collect a safety and the Bengal lead.

It was missed opportunities like this and others throughout the game that kept Auburn from the win.

“Its obviously something that you hope that when guys have opportunities to make plays with receivers that are open or guys that are in the open field, when you see the right cut, you make the right cut,” Chizik said.

“Obviously that’s something that we all wish that they would see and do. The reality of the game is that is doesn’t always work that way. We can’t pin one game down on this guy not doing this or this guy not doing that; I’m not going to do that. It was a team loss. That eats at me, but not the play of one particular guy on one particular play.”

LSU’s next possession led to its only touchdown of the game. Mettenberger moved the offense downfield 59 yards on nine plays, capping the scoring-drive with a 1-yard run from running back Michael Ford.

LSU’s quarterback troubles continued deep into the first when Corey Lemonier rushed past the offensive line to find Mettenberger. The sack resulted in a 6-yard loss, but a fumble recovery by sophomore defensive lineman Angelo Blackson gave Auburn the ball back and promising field position at the LSU 26 with 1:02 left on the clock.

The Tigers made its way to the end zone following a 4-yard run by senior running back Onterio McCalebb. A perfect PAT attempt by junior kicker Cody Parkey put Auburn within two, trailing 9-7.

The second quarter yielded only three points, but that was all Auburn needed to gain the lead. With 1:25 to play in the half, Parkey set up for a 40-yard field goal attempt. The kick sailed through the uprights, giving Parkey his ninth consecutive field goal and a 10-9 Tigers lead.

Freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace made his first appearance as a Tiger in the second quarter, marking the 19th first-time player for Auburn this season.

“Jonathan has really had a very consistent track in terms of improvement in practice,” Chizik said. “We like his poise; he’s an extremely intelligent man when it comes to the game of football. He was very successful in high school with his team. He earned the right to play, that’s about as simple as I can put it.”

The Bayou Bengals trailed for less than 10 minutes, regaining the lead after kicker Drew Alleman made a 30-yard game-winning field goal.

Auburn tried desperately to turn the game around and come out on top, but the Tigers had no such luck.

“We just didn’t finish,” said senior tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen. “We’ve had two top-10 teams this season we could have beat, and we just didn’t finish. We know we can play with anyone, but we just have to finish.”

Mettenberger threw a 33-yard bullet to back Spencer Ware, proving to be the straw that broke Auburn’s back.

A missed field goal by LSU gave Auburn the ball back with 39 seconds left in the game, but an interception by Simon ended its upset bid.

“I want to say thank you to all of our fans tonight, because they were all in,” Chizik said. “They came in and showed up and did their job and they were outstanding. That’s what makes Auburn great.

“On the football part of it, it was very disappointing that we played against our second top-10 team and we had chances to win the game and we didn’t. It’s disappointing, but our goal every week is to improve and I saw a lot of improvement in our football team tonight in a lot of different ways.

“Give LSU a lot of credit. They are extremely talented, extremely physical football team and they’re very good. It was a hard fought battle and we didn’t come out on the right end of that. It’s very disappointing to me and everybody in the locker room. We came into the game fully expecting to win and it didn’t happen.”

The Tigers finished the night with 183 total offensive yards. Sophomore Quarterback Kiehl Frazier went 13-of-22 for 97 yards and two interceptions. Mason led the team in rushing with 54 yards while senior receiver Emory Blake had a team-high 56 receiving yards.

Auburn has next week off before facing Arkansas at home.

“We have eight games left and we’re fighting to try to finish as high as we can in the SEC and hopefully get to the best bowl game we can,” Lutzenkirchen said.

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