Auburn's Justin Garrett tackles Patrick Towles on Kentucky's last-gasp play, with defensive help from Cassanova McKinzy, left, and Dontavius Russell
By Charles Goldberg
LEXINGTON, Ky. ― Cassanova McKinzy had seen Auburn go up and down the field, Kentucky get a bunch of yards, too, and decided enough was enough.
"It was our time to win the game."
The Buck linebacker and the rest of the Auburn defense did just that, stopping Kentucky on a final last-gasp drive with a fourth-down stop around midfield to help the Tigers to a 30-27 victory in Commonwealth Stadium.
Linebacker Justin Garrett had the final defensive honors when he tackled quarterback Patrick Towles for with 25 seconds remaining.
The defense, said coach Gus Malzahn, "won the game for us on that last drive."
It was Malzahn who chose to punt on fourth-and-1 with around two minutes left and turn the game over to his defense.
"You can pin them back and make them drive the field and have your defense come up big. There was a little bit of a discussion about that," Malzahn said. "We punted, and put the pressure on our defense and our defense responded."
Soon enough, Auburn celebrated.
"We work them hard. We demand a lot from them. They needed to get to the gratification of a win," said defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.
"The locker room was great. They were dancing in there. I don't dance. I have a bad knee. It's really fun as a coach to see them enjoy that part because come Tuesday's practice, we're going to get after their butt, I can tell you that."
It was all part of a successful final minute.
"Coach," Garrett said, "says the game will come down to us at the very end. We just had to forget about the first three quarters and win the game."
Kentucky had 497 yards, but Auburn did have six tackles for a loss, including three sacks.
Garrett was able to ease over to one spot, then move to another before the snap on the decisive play.
"They kept hitting the receivers on short little stop routes. I wanted to show I was playing zone coverage, and then slide back into the box," Garrett said. "I knew once the quarterback saw me over there he had no choice but to pull it and run it. I just tried to come up and make a play to end the game."
Kentucky was battling Auburn's defense and the clock as the game wore down. Muschamp said he had drawn a line in the sand.
"The 30-yard line was their mark to get to field goal range."
Kentucky never got there.
"I'm very proud of our guys. We keep battling, keep battling," Muschamp said.
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Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine