Dec. 2, 2017
By Jeff Shearer
ATLANTA - After twice beating the No. 1 team to claim the SEC Western Division crown, Auburn came up short in the SEC Championship Game, losing to Georgia 28-7 Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
"It was a tough loss," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "We got off to a good start. Then we had some uncharacteristic things happen. We played really good football the second half of the season. We had a blocked field goal and two turnovers there that were really tough.
"Overall, I'm very proud of our team to get here. Obviously, we're hurting right now. Got a bunch of hurting coaches and players in the locker room, but I will tell you, though, even though it's tough right now, the future's very bright, and I'm proud of our team getting us to this point. Congratulations to Georgia."
Auburn (10-3), which entered at No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings, will learn its bowl destination on Sunday.
Trailing by six points going to the fourth quarter, Auburn drove to midfield, but Georgia recovered a fumble and scored four plays later to take a 14-point lead. The Bulldogs added a 64-yard touchdown run for the final score.
On third-and-goal from the 6, Stidham rifled a touchdown pass to a slanting Nate Craig-Myers for a 7-0 Auburn lead.
"We just called a play that we've been working on," said Craig-Myers of his third touchdown of the season. "It executed right and it worked out for us."
Stidham completed his first eight attempts, finishing 16 of 32 for 145 yards and his 17th touchdown pass of the season.
"Everybody was really excited for this game. Just didn't go our way tonight," Stidham said. "They did a great job tonight of switching it up and causing a little bit of havoc. We just didn't execute when we should have."
On Georgia's first possession, a blitzing Tray Matthews sacked Georgia's Jake Fromm on first down for a loss of 7, Matthews' first career sack. Two plays later, Dontavius Russell sacked Fromm, forcing a punt.
Early in the second quarter, Auburn drove to Georgia's 14, but Georgia recovered a fumble at the 16. The Bulldogs then drove 84 yards for a tying touchdown, with Fromm finding Isaac Nauta for a 2-yard TD pass.
Georgia added a 27-yard field goal with 4:59 in the second quarter to take a 10-7 halftime lead.
Auburn began the second half with a promising drive, gaining 52 yards on three consecutive plays, including a 24-yard pass from Stidham to Ryan Davis on third-and-6. Kerryon Johnson gained 15 yards on a quick pitch, then Stidham found Davis again for 13.
The drive stalled at the 14-yard-line, with Georgia blocking a 31-yard field goal attempt. The Bulldogs kicked a 35-yard field goal to lead 13-7 with 1:26 left in the third quarter.
Davis made seven receptions for 65 yards, extending his single-season record to 76.
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer