I've come to the realization that I'm just not all that funny. I attempted to come up with so many "drop" puns, and they just weren't working. I'm sorry. I've failed you. I really dropped the ball on that one.
Ok, now let's get to the actual recap. The first half? That was about as bad as you could imagine a half being for Auburn on offense until that final drive. The Tigers had the ball four times and gained 16 yards. It was horrendous. It was almost entirely due to five dropped passes.
Five. Dropped. Passes. And one tipped break-up. They weren't perfect passes, but they were placed in perfect places (where only the WR was going to grab them). They weren't perfect passes, but the WRs got their hands on every one of them. I don't even know how to describe what it was we saw on those plays. It was by far the worst display from a wide receiver corps that I think I've ever seen.
But then something happened. Arkansas was up 14-0, and while we were all screaming at how horrible the defense was on Twitter, the defense had still held the Razorbacks to punting twice. They were on a third and long, and with pressure in his face Brandon Allen's pass was under-thrown and snagged by linebacker Kris Frost on the Auburn 4 yard line.
96 yards? With the way this offense had played? Never going to happen. Some of the Gus trickery came into play, though. Sean White stepped back to throw what looked like an obvious tunnel screen. Arkansas crashed down on the play, but White pumped, then stepped to hit a wide open Melvin Ray on what looked like a slant route (couldn't have been, though, right? Not from Auburn) for 19 yards. The Tigers started moving.
Walk-on wide receiver Gray King made the play of his career when Sean White was hit hard and the ball sailed in the air on 3rd down just inside Arkansas territory. King stepped up, snagged the ball, then dove for the first down marker on the sideline. He was two yards short, but that was better than 4th and long. On 4th and 2 Kerryon Johnson took the Wildcat and rumbled down the field, hurdling a defender, and got the Tigers going again.
A few plays later Peyton Barber pounded into the end zone. A 1st Half that had looked completely lost and without hope suddenly saw Auburn going into the locker room down only seven points and getting the ball first in the 2nd Half. The question was, would they be able to keep the momentum from end of the first half going?
The first drive of the second half seemed to indicate that it was. The Tigers marched 75 yards down the field and scored a touchdown on a Jason Smith jet sweep to tie the game at 14. Auburn then held Arkansas to a three-and-out, but couldn't capitalize. Sean White had Chandler Cox on a wheel route, but Cox turned to look and jump and couldn't haul it in. A chance to really drive a spear into the Razorbacks (like boar hunting, get it? I'm full of bad jokes, today) slipped away.
Arkansas drove down the field on their ensuing possession to retake the lead 21-14. The drive was slowed for a few minutes by a scary injury to Arkansas freshman running back Rawleigh Williams, III. He was carted off the field, but was moving on the field beforehand. Side line reports indicated it was largely precautionary.
Auburn was able to answer with yet another 90+ yard drive that was helped by a huge deep throw to Jason Smith. It ended with a Jeremy Johnson touchdown on 4th and goal from the 1 to tie the game at 21.
Arkansas then proceeded to eat the clock, though. They drove the ball down the field with easy screen plays and Auburn's defense just not playing soundly to get inside the red zone with less than two minutes to play. Auburn was forced to begin using time outs to try to reduce the damage. They were able to hold Arkansas to a field goal with 1:07 left on the clock.
Auburn started moving the ball, but a costly penalty led to Auburn being forced backwards. The game almost ended when Sean White appeared to fumble, but it was ruled his arm was moving forward. With his back to the wall and Arkansas' stadium frothing at the mouth, Sean White faced down pressure and zipped two long passes to Ricardo Louis that put Auburn into field goal range.
You know what happened, next. #Legatron happened. From 41 yards out, Daniel Carlson was able to put the ball straight through the uprights. We went to overtime.
Auburn got the ball first. Overtime? You know what to do. Give it to 25. I said it on Twitter, but I'll say it again. In an Auburn football season that may end up mostly forgettable, Peyton Barber's heart, drive, and determination to win should go down in Auburn legend. On three straight plays he barreled through the Arkansas line to put a TD on the board for the Tigers.
Arkansas managed to pick up the first down on 3rd in 8. Then Auburn held them to a 4th and 3 thanks to a good stick by Frost on 2nd down to not let RB Alex Collins get the fist down, and then Carlton Davis made a great pass breakup. Unfortunately, Auburn couldn't hold on the 4th down play. Arkansas scored to tie it up.
Arkansas got the ball first in the second overtime, and managed to drive it down quickly and score to go up 38-31. Auburn responded with some great runs by Barber and a great throw and catch by White and Jason Smith. We went to OT #3.
Peyton Barber continued to be inhuman in the 3rd OT as he repeatedly pounded the ball until he crossed the line. Then Auburn pulled out the Lutzie for the 2-point conversion. We went to Arkansas with the ball. Arkansas again scored a touchdown of their own. They picked it up. We went to a FOURTH over time.
On the first play of the 4th OT, Arkansas scored a touchdown. They then immediately converted on the two point conversion. Auburn's offense came back out on the field needing to do the same to extend it. Sean White had Ricardo Louis nailed on a touchdown pass on 2nd down, but guess what? A wide receiver dropped it. They went back to the same play call. Arkansas' DB made a fantastic pass break up. On 4th and 9, White had Louis. Nothing doing. Arkansas wins.
That was rough. That will be a very tough game to come back from for Auburn. The defense actually didn't allow much in the way of yards in regulation. By overtime they were toast. The offense played about as well as it has all year with the exception of one very big thing: drops. Drops, drops, and more drops. Catch footballs and we might not even be in overtime. Instead, we lose to BERT. Dang it.
Auburn will be back home next weekend for another 11am game. This time hosting Ole Miss.
War Eagle. Always.