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Oklahoma, injuries stop Auburn in Sugar Bowl
Auburn's Kerryon Johnson was looking to go against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl

Jan. 2, 2017

By Charles Goldberg

NEW ORLEANS -- Injuries and Oklahoma were too much for Auburn in the Sugar Bowl on Monday night.

Starting quarterback Sean White suffered a broken forearm on the first drive of the game and Oklahoma ran past the Tigers in the second half in a 35-19 victory in the Superdome.

Running back Kerryon Johnson threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Harris on the last play of the game, but tht was Auburn's first touchdown since the first series of the game. White kept playing after suffering the injury, trying to convince himself and his coaches he could keep going.

X-rays said otherwise.

Malzahn said quarterback John Franklin III also dealt with an arm injury. Jeremy Johnson finished the game.

It was the most points Auburn allowed this season, and not even a 103 rushing game by Auburn 1,000-yard rusher Kamryn Pettway could change that.

The Tigers had surprised the skeptics this year. Auburn, picked to finish sixth in the SEC West in a preseason poll, finished tied for the second-best record in the league, and qualified for the Sugar Bowl as the highest-ranked SEC team outside of the playoffs. Auburn, which won six straight games when most everybody was healthy, finished 8-5, struggling late in the season as the injuries mounted. Oklahoma won its 10th straight game to finish 11-2.

White's star-crossed career includes touchdowns and injuries in each of his two seasons. He missed games last year, and then the final two regular-season game this season as well.

Coach Gus Malzahn said White was finally fully healthy in the days leading up to the Sugar Bowl. But the Sugar Bowl injury, likely in the first quarter, sidelined White again.

White knows the feeling. He suffered a shoulder injury at midseason this season and played through it before missing the Alabama A&M and Alabama games after aggravating the injury against Georgia in the 10th game of the season.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, a Heisman Trophy finalist, simply kept playing, scrambling and throwing touchdown passes. He raised his season TD total to 40 against Auburn.

The first half was a game of starts and stops. There were 11 penalties in the first 20 minutes. Most of them were by Oklahoma. The Sooners cleaned that up in the second half.

Auburn's offense looked good early, mixing things up, moving the ball smartly and scoring on its first drive of the game. Chandler Cox darted in from the 3 to give Auburn a 7-0 lead with 9:04 left in the first quarter.

With White hurt, the Tigers turned to ol' reliable Daniel Carlson for their next two scores of the first half, a 49-yard field goal to put Auburn up 10-7 with 7:16 left in the second quarter, and a 39-yard field goal about 6 ½ minutes later.

But Oklahoma hit halftime up 14-13 thanks to a 13-yard scoring pass from Baker Mayfield to Mark Andrews, then a 3-yard run by Joe Mixon. Oklahoma outscored Auburn 14-0 in the third quarter, on a Mayfield-to-Dede Westbrook 7-yard pass and a 4-yard run by Mixon. Then Samaje Perine scored on a 2-yard run to make it 35-13 with 12:40 left in the fourth quarter. Perine would go on to become the Sooners' all-time leading rusher in the fourth quarter, passing Billy Sims.

John Franklin III and Jeremy Johnson replaced White in the second half. Oklahoma finished with 524 yards. Auburn had 339.

Check back here for comments from coach Gus Malzahn...

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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