Jeremy Johnson avoids the pressure and looks to make a play in Auburn's overtime win
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Melvin Ray leaned over and told him he wanted the ball. Jeremy Johnson obliged.
The Auburn quarterback delivered the game-tying touchdown pass with 39 seconds left in regulation, and then delivered a clutch third-down pass in overtime that helped set up the Tigers to a 27-20 overtime win over Jacksonville State on Saturday.
"Coach always says we'll find a way to win. Melvin Ray went up and made a great play and the defense made a great stop at the end," Johnson said.
It wasn't an easy game. Johnson numbers were good enough at 21 of 32 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns, but there were also two interceptions.
"I think Jeremy did some good things," said coach Gus Malzahn. "I need to help Jeremy, too. I need to help put him in some better situations, it all works together. At the end of the game, when we needed him, he made the plays for us.
"There were a lot of ups and downs, but he had bright eyes and he wanted to lead our team."
Johnson said he was ready throughout.
"I have a lot of confidence in myself and my teammates," he said. "I never get down on myself, as long as they're on my side, I feel good."
Johnson handled the pressure at the end, hitting 4-of-5 passes for 28 yards and a touchdown in the final drive of regulation and in overtime when Auburn needed the points. He was 2-of-2 in another late drive when Auburn ultimately fumbled at the 3.
It was another step toward Auburn's SEC opener at LSU on Saturday.
"He stayed calm even though we made some mistakes," said defensive back Rudy Ford. "The biggest thing was that he stayed calm and made some more plays down the road and he left those mistakes. The biggest thing was that we got the 'W.'"
Johnson said he's already learned what to do when mistakes are made.
"Just go to the next play. That's part of football. You just learn from your mistakes," he said.
"We're very confident. We feel good about where we're at."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine