In a battle of coaches on the hot seat, Gus Malzahn and Auburn scraped past Les Miles’ Tigers 18-13, thanks to a last second reversal from the booth. Red zone playcalling was still an issue, but All-SEC kicker Daniel Carlson was the game’s star, going a perfect 6-for-6 on field goal attempts.
Early on, LSU looked overpowering on defense. Their stout front seven shut down the early run game but fantastic performances from Sean White and Kerryon Johnson helped get the game back on track. Against one of the best secondaries in the country, White had one of his best games of the year. The sophomore passer completed over 70 percent of his passes for 234 yards. His ability to covert third down situations was key in converting drives into points and flipping field position.
Kerryon Johnson also had one of his best games as a Tiger. After Kamryn Pettway failed to establish a tough ground game early on, Malzahn and the offense decided to turn to Johnson. The sophomore tailback carried the ball 22 times for 93 yards and added four catches for 68 yards through the air. He also showed a power running ability that took the LSU defense by surprise and allowed him to fight for crucial extra yards.
Those great offensive performances were irrelevant as the game ticked into its final seconds. With Auburn leading 18-13, LSU quarterback Danny Etling was leading his team deep into Auburn territory as the seconds ticked away. With only a few ticks remaining, Etling converted a fourth down pass to keep the drive alive. But an illegal motion penalty backed them up again, and with just one second left on the clock, the referee commanded the clock to start on his cue. Etling snapped the ball, rolled left and fired a strike to the DJ Shark in the back of the end zone to give LSU the one point victory. Or so they thought.
“I was pretty confident time had expired,” Malzahn said. “It was just a matter of going to the booth and confirming it.”
After a booth review, officials overturned the ruling on the field. With 0:00 on the scoreboard, Etling had failed to snap the ball. The ruling sent the Auburn bench flying onto the field and the LSU faithful to the exits. After the game, LSU head coach Les Miles knew how devastatingly close he was to winning this SEC West matchup.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever come as close to winning a game and finishing second as today,” Miles said.
With his job already rumored to be in jeopardy, Miles knew how important a road win against Auburn would have been. Sure enough, just one day after the loss to Auburn, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva fired Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
“It’s apparent in evaluating the program through the first month of the season that a change has to be made,” Alleva said. “We have an obligation to our student-athletes to put them in the best position to have success on the football field.”
Up next, Auburn takes on the University of Louisiana-Monroe this Saturday for homecoming. The Tigers kick off at 2:30 p.m. CT, with a great shot to find their rhythm in red zone before facing some of the SEC’s toughest teams.