WHEW! Auburn Football vs South Carolina Game Recap


Oct 25, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive back Jonathan Jones (3) intercepts a pass intended for South Carolina Gamecocks receiver Shaq Roland (4) during the second half at Jordan Hare Stadium. The Tigers beat the Gamecocks 42-35. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 5 Auburn Tigers hosted the South Carolina Gamecocks at Jordan-Hare Stadium, where the Auburn football team has now won 14 games in a row. Number 14 didn’t come easy, however, as the Tigers outlasted their challengers 42-35 in a back-and-forth slugfest.

The two teams combined for 1,068 yards of total offense, but the game was decided by a few key defensive plays that sealed the victory for the Tigers. Jonathan Jones picked off two passes in the fourth quarter, including a last second Hail Mary attempt, and Jonathon Mincy made two nice plays – including the first failed fourth down attempt of the game for the Gamecock in six tries.

Nick Marshall led the Auburn offense. The senior quarterback finished with 139 passing yards and a touchdown on 12-for-14 passing and gained 89 yards on the ground and three touchdowns and also caught a 17-yard pass from backup quarterback/wide receiver Jonathan Wallace.

Things got off to a rough start for Auburn. After winning the toss and electing to receive, Carolina drove 75 yards quickly, 68 of it coming on three Dylan Thompson completions, including a 32-yarded to Shaq Roland for a touchdown.

On Auburn’s first series of the evening, the Tigers got all three running backs – Cameron Artis-Payne, Roc Thomas, and Corey Grant – into the mix, but the drive stalled near midfield and the Tigers were forced to punt. Daniel Carlson‘s rugby style punt, in an attempt to pin the Gamecocks deep in their own territory, instead went off the side of his foot and went out of bounds at the 25-yard line. It would be his last punt until the final drive of the game because Auburn scored touchdowns on six consecutive possessions.

Just a handful of plays later, Carolina was in the red zone where the team had scored on 27 of its first 28 opportunities, but Thompson’s pass across the middle of the field was intercepted by Cassanova McKinzy and the Tigers dodged a bullet. McKinzy finished with six tackles in the game. Fellow linebacker Kris Frost was especially busy and finished with a career-high 14 tackles.

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Eleven plays and 92 yards later and the Tigers were in the end zone. Nick Marshall finished the drive with a 3-yard touchdown toss to senior tight end/H-back Brandon Fulse. The catch was Fulse’s first career touchdown, his first reception of the season for Fulse and only the fifth of his career.

Not to be outdone, some aggressive play calling by Steve Spurrier – including a double reverse pass from Pharaoh Cooper to Thompson – and the Gamecocks were back in striking distance. Thompson hit Cooper on a touchdown pass to complete the drive, and South Carolina took a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter. At that point, Thompson had completed 10 of 14 passes for 156 yards, two touchdowns and also caught a 14-yard pass. Cooper was on the receiving end of five of those passes for 67 yards and a TD, and the Gamecocks had rolled up 213 yards in just over 17 minutes of game time.

Thompson finished the game 29-for-51 with 402 yards, five touchdowns and three costly interceptions. He was not sacked by the Auburn defense. Cooper caught seven passes in all for 127 yards and two scores.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Tigers were called for a holding penalty, but found the end zone again quickly. Running with #AuburnFast tempo, the Tigers scored on the tenth play of a 93-yard drive. Artis-Payne finished the drive with a two-yard touchdown, and led the Tigers Saturday with 167 yards on 25 carries.

The Auburn defense came to life on the following drive and forced a punt. However, Quan Bray fumbled at the end of an impressive return that included several missed tackles and South Carolina took over at the Auburn 42-yard line. It was Auburn’s only turnover of the game. 

The Tigers stiffened again, but a face mask on third down extended the drive for the Gamecocks. On the following play, Thompson hit Mike Davis on a 27-yard pass and catch to take the lead.

But the Tigers answered quickly as Nick Marshall scored on a 37-yard touchdown keeper to tie the game with 2:35 left in the half. The run was the seventh play of a 75-yard drive, and tied the score 21-21.

Auburn’s defense struggled to contain Thompson all night, but they were solid against the run. Davis rushed for 40 yards on nine carries and the Gamecocks had 56 yards on the ground on 15 carries across the first 30 minutes. The junior running back finished the game with 88 yards on 21 carries, and South Carolina ran for 119 yards as a team.

The scoring continued in the second half. Nick Marshall gave Auburn their first lead of the game following yet another long drive as the Tigers went 85 yards on 13 plays on the opening drive of the second half and Marshall covered the final four for a touchdown. Artis-Payne broke the century mark early during the drive and carried the ball eight times for 53 yards.

However, Carolina once again responded immediately. Thompson threw his fourth touchdown of the game, and second to Pharaoh Cooper when the two connected on a 51-yarder. Halfway through the third quarter, the game was tied once more, 28-28.

But the score wouldn’t last long. After several drives of double-digit plays, the Tigers answered quickly with a 75-yard touchdown run by Ricardo Louis to take a 35-28 lead. The run was the longest ever by an Auburn wide receiver and gave Louis 102 rushing yards on only three carries.

The Gamecocks tied it up right away on Thompson’s fifth touchdown pass, and then recovered a surprise onside kick. However, Jones’ first interception kept the Gamecocks out of the end zone. Marshall’s nine-yard rushing touchdown with 11:22 left in the game put the Tigers up for good.

Overall, the Tigers allowed 535 yards, but made big plays when it counted. including the somewhat controversial interception at the end of the game. As it turns out, there were two Tigers on the field wearing the No. 1 because receiver D’haquille Williams entered as a defensive back and Montravius Adams was on the defensive line. Because there is a rule against two players having the same number playing at the same time, a penalty should have been called the play shouldn’t have counted. The Gamecocks should have had one more play from the 35-yard line.

The win gives Auburn a 6-1 record, including a 3-1 mark in SEC play. The Gamecocks fell to 4-4 and 2-4 in league play and have still yet to win a game at Jordan-Hare. South Carolina will host Tennessee next week while the Tigers will travel to Oxford, Mississippi for a mega SEC West matchup with the Ole Miss Rebels, who were upset 10-7 by LSU in Baton Rouge.

Next: Auburn vs South Carolina Game Day Prediction

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