The opening stanza of this one was a bit different and yet a bit of the same for Auburn. It was different because the offense came out moving the ball and scoring two quick touchdowns. Sean White and Ricardo Louis connected for 100+ yards through the air to give the Tigers 14 points. Kentucky added seven of their own after Cassanova McKinzy missed a tackle for loss on "Boom" Williams that turned into a 60 yard run and then a short touchdown run after he was brought down.
The defense did make a good stop on the Wildcat's second drive, but Auburn was unable to get anything out of the stop due to a holding call and a batted down screen pass that could have gone for a long way. Kentucky got the ball back and drove through the end of the first quarter and picked right back up when the second quarter back. It didn't work out for them, though as true freshman Carlton Davis snagged a Patrick Towles pass in the end zone for the interception.
Auburn couldn't get a touchdown out of the ensuing drive, but a healthy dose of Kerryon Johnson put the Tigers into field goal position and allowed Auburn to extend the lead to 17-7. Auburn's defense looked like it might respond, but unfortunately still gave up big 3rd down plays, as it has all season long. They did hold Kentucky to 3 of their own to keep it 17-10, though.
Auburn drove the field again as they'd done all night, but converted with only 3 points. Then the Auburn defense showed up in style, holding Kentucky to a three-and-out that included a Davonte Lambert sack. Auburn got the ball back and was able to gain enough yards for one last play before a long field goal try. And oh how close that play way. Sean White threw just a bit too high to a wide open Tony Stevens and Stevens couldn't quite get his foot down in time to haul in the TD. Instead, Daniel Carlson nailed another 50+ field goal to take the lead to 23-10 at the half.
Kentucky came out driving on their first drive of the second half as they picked up big third down plays, again, just as everyone has on Auburn all season long. It culminated in a six yard run by "Boom" Williams where Auburn let the RB stay up and on the backs of defenders and stretch his arm out towards the end zone for the score to cut the Auburn lead to 23-17.
The rest of the 3rd quarter was more of the same. Auburn ran only 10 plays in the quarter and gained very few yards. Kentucky added a field goal before forcing Auburn to punt on the first play of the 4th quarter. The Auburn defense stepped up, though, and held Kentucky to a punt. The Tigers then drove down the field - getting the benefit of an overturned fumble that was CLEARLY DOWN - to get a Barber touchdown with 7:56 to go in the game to stretch the Auburn lead to 30-20.
Kentucky drove right down the field on the benefit of some bad pass interference penalties to score a touchdown to cut the lead back to three points with just over four minutes to go. Auburn got the ball back, but were stopped with one yard to go on 4th down near midfield and two minutes on the clock. Kentucky was confused and only had 8 men on the field, but Auburn still punted.
Kentucky moved the ball, but some questionable play calling - and some good defense, admittedly - put the Wildcats in 4th and short. Davonte Lambert - who is starting to look much better on that repaired knee - forced the Kentucky QB out of the pocket and the Tigers cleaned up with the tackle for loss on 4th down to seal the 30-27 victory for the Tigers.
Auburn is now 1-2 in the SEC. The defense struggled with the big plays, but, hey, Kentucky has been REALLY good at big plays this year. The offense had some hiccups, questionable play calls, and bad drops, but they still put up 30 points on an SEC foe.
Auburn now has a bit of extra time before facing Arkansas on the road next Saturday. The Tigers will need it to get some players like Montravius Adams (who went out with a shoulder injury in the 4th) healthy. Oh, and maybe we can figure out how to get Sean White a touchdown pass. That kid deserves it. I have been seriously impressed with the redshirt freshman's poise and concentration at the QB position. Let's not forget this was his third start, second SEC start, and it was a Thursday night game on the road against a REALLY amped Kentucky team and crowd. Some of you may doubt him, but I don't. Sean White is GOOD.
Enjoy the weekend, Auburn fans. Auburn wins. War Eagle. Always.