The first half really was Auburn's season in microcosm. There were some great plays. There were some very questionable play calls. There were a lot of field goals. Unfortunately, Auburn came up short on one of them from 48 yards, but going into half down only one score is way more than anyone expected for this game.
Plays were there for the Tigers in the first half. Jovon Robinson was gaining chunks of yards, but for some reason Auburn kept going away from him. On 3rd and 2, he opted to throw it deep rather than run it late in the 1st half. Ricardo Louis was open, but the ball was under thrown enough that Alabama's DB was able to break up what should have been a clear touchdown for the Tigers.
It didin't help that Blake Countess dropped a clear pick-6 with beautiful green grass in front of him right before Alabama's final field goal of the half, either.
Alabama was averaging giving up around 70 yards per game on the ground. Auburn had 90 yards in the first half mainly through runs by Barber and Robinson. Auburn's defense, meanwhile, was doing a respectable job of slowing Alabama. They kept the Tide out of the end zone for the whole first half, including after Bama had a 1st and goal inside the five.
Auburn held on the first drive of the second half, couldn't convert themselves, then just could not complete a tackle as Bama QB Jake Coker escaped multiple times and eventually hit a deep pass for a touchdown. With Alabama up 19-6, it appeared over. Especially when Auburn couldn't get anything going on the early downs.
Then it happened. Jeremy Johnson threw a deep ball that Jason Smith tipped. Twice. Too himself. Touchdown Auburn. Miracle at Jordan-Hare Part II. It was an unreal play at a time when Auburn needed a shot in the arm so badly.
For some reason, Auburn kept throwing the ball, though. After the run was working and even with Johnson's struggles. There was a wide open touchdown to Ricardo Louis that he threw just past.
Then the stupid happened. Alabama scrambled, Auburn was CLEARLY held, and they threw a late hit flag for what was so obviously NOT a late hit. Auburn's bench was so apoplectic that another 15 yard flag was thrown. Auburn made a stop, but Alabama kicked a field goal and took a 9 point lead with just under 10 minutes to play.
Auburn just couldn't overcome the deficit from there. This is a team that had chances to win this football game. A good quarterback and there's a decent chance the Tigers could have pulled it out. Too many throws that were just enough off target cost the Tigers field position and possibly points on a few plays.
It was a heck of an effort by the Tigers on defense for most of the game. A few missed tackles, dumb penalties on Auburn and absolutely zero holding penalties on Alabama were too much for them to overcome when the offense wasn't effective.
Auburn now awaits their bowl destination. We'll find that out next Sunday.
War Eagle. Always.