After the excitement which unfolded in Happy Valley, the Auburn Tigers come back down to earth to face their final non-conference opponent before Southeastern Conference play.
Quarter 1: Auburn - 6 | Georgia State - 3
Georgia State came to a bit of surprise holding Bo Nix and company to a six and out on his first possession. The Panthers after a 57-yard run by Tucker Gregg settled for a field goal to draw first blood.
Special teams got the Tigers on the scoreboard when Nehemiah Pritchett broke out for a 72-yard return after kickoff. Anders Carlson tied the game shortly after no gain from offensive company.
The Auburn defense found their footing early, but Mike Bobo and his offense could only muster 26 total yards after three full possessions. Things didn’t get any better and scoring remaining stagnant to end the opening quarter. In fact, I may already see a few fans beginning to dose off enjoying comfortable 70-degree weather inside Jordan-Hare.
Quarter 2: Tigers – 12 | Panthers - 24
The Panthers on their fourth drive gave the home crowd a rude awakening going 75-yards to break the games touchdown draught. Capping off the possession was Jamari Thrasher on a 12-yard reception from Darren Grainger. It was a feeling of complacency walking into the stadium for fans and players that lacked the energy coming off their White Out appearance.
Bo Nix had better success getting down the field on the following drive but struggled to finish giving the capable Anders Carlson his ninth point of the game.
State quarterback Darren Grainger continued his rhythm from shotgun mirroring his previous drive on only five plays. Incredible catches from Roger Carter extended the Panther lead 17-9.
On a positive note, the receiving game for Auburn turned around significantly since last week recording 107 yards in the air to finish the half. But the struggles continued on attempts to reach the red zone going 47-yards and settle for another field goal. To this point, the home team has been flagged five times totaling 50-yards.
It went from bad to worse for everyone not wearing the royal blue as State’s running game exploded dominating the Tiger Defense scoring on 50-yard run from Tucker Gregg. Auburn’s next possession reached the Georgia State 49 and special teams called upon Aidan Marshall for the second time to punt.
Quarter 3: AU - 24 | GSU - 19
A lack luster start to the second half resulted in Auburn’s first three & out with no points in the first four combine drives. Both teams would trade consecutive punts as it seemed neither wanted a change in score.
With 4:44 left in the quarter, a punt from Oscar Chapman was blocked by Caylin Newton and recovered in the endzone for the first Auburn touchdown of the day.
The big news of the day came with the appearance of T.J. Finley replacing Bo Nix who finished the day 13-27, 156 yards, 0 TD/0 INT
Quarter 4: The Comeback
The no more than 500 State fans in attendance for today’s game could feel an upset in the works. Finley and company reached the Panthers 23 and settled for another Carlson FGA. Unlike his first four tries, the 40-yarder missed wide left leaving only a stunned Auburn crowd.
The question of the half was not going to be the effectiveness of the defense as they would keep State scoreless the rest of the game. The game plan for Bryan Harsin shifted back to the run game with the Panthers invoking a no-fly zone. Things went from worse to ugly when a handoff to Tank Bigsby was fumbled on the State 24.
After not converting drives into points, Finley wasn’t making a promising case for the starting position missing the end zone on his first three attempts. The defense is the reason the Tigers were able to pull off the upset, holding State to 85-yards in the half. T.J. Finley escapes defeat on Auburn’s final drive facing 3rd and 11 lasting 13 plays for 98 yards. The student section erupted, and Smoke Monday added insult to injury with an interception on Grainger’s final attempt.
The Auburn Tigers snatch victory from the gates of mediocrity over Georgia State 34-24. Traveling to LSU next week in the spotlight game, the only question comes to who will start at quarterback.