Sept. 24, 2016
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Talk about your dramatic finishes...
Daniel Carlson had a game to remember and Auburn's defense stopped LSU at the 15-yard line as time ran out in a crazy 18-13 victory in a game that featured eight field goals.
It wasn't truly decided until the replay official said time ran out before LSU's final play, which looked, ever so briefly, as a 15-yard game-winning touchdown pass. LSU initially celebrated a win. The officials said no.
Carlson tied a school record with six field goals, and, obviously, scored all the points for Auburn.
"It feels good to win a game like this. It was hard fought," Malzahn said. "There were a lot of ups and downs. It was really a team effort. It was a big win for us and I think it will give us some momentum moving forward."
Carlson was an equal-opportunity kicker, hitting three in the first half and three more in the second. Auburn's defense did the rest, holding LSU to 14 first downs. "The best kicker in college football," said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn.
"When we go to kick a field goal," said quarterback Sean White, "I don't even look. I know it's going to be good."
But the game was close, with LSU driving in the final seconds. Carl Lawson had a big sack to slow LSU, moving the Bengal Tigers back from the 14 to the 20. LSU was fighting the clock, got off a few more snaps, but eventually, time ran out.
Malzahn said he was confident that time had run out before the snap, and the officials only had to do their "due diligence" to say Auburn won.
"Sometimes it's the way you win that makes a long-lasting impression on your team," Malzahn said of the dramatic victory.
Auburn's defense set the tone early when it held LSU to only five first downs in the first half. The Bengals Tigers finished with 14.
Auburn tried, but couldn't do this against No. 5 Clemson and No. 10 Texas A&M. The third time was a charm against a nationally-ranked team.
No. 17 LSU couldn't overcome Auburn's improving defense.
"It's been a tough week, and it's just a tribute to our leadership. It's real good to win a game like this," Malzahn said.
Malzahn said he turned over the play calling for this game to offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee so he could manage the game easier as a head coach. Auburn outgained LSU 388-338 yards.
Malzahn said Lashlee did a "really good job."
Malzahn said White "played an outstanding game" and continued to show a toughness that impresses. He was 19-of-26 passing for 234 yards. Kerryon Johnson led Auburn with 93 yards rushing, and added 68 more receiving yards.
The first half belonged to Auburn's defense and Carlson. He kicked field goals of 51, 29 and 29 yards. The last of those was Carlson's 50th in his career, and gave Auburn a 9-7 lead with 5:14 left in the second quarter.
He kicked his 51st field goal on Auburn's first drive of the second half to give the Tigers a 12-7 lead. He just kept kicking them.
"He's a huge weapon. He helped us win tonight," Malzahn said.
Carlson's first field goal was his seventh of at least 50 yards. That padded his school record.
Auburn held LSU to 137 yards in the first half.
The Tigers threatened to increase its 9-7 lead late in the first half, but Kerryon Johnson's run on fourth-down at the 1 was stopped short of the goal line.
Carlson was steady, though. He kicked two of his six field goals in the fourth quarter.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine