ATHENS, Ga. — Football is a team game. And although it looked like two different teams wearing Auburn uniforms played Saturday against Georgia, the Tigers as a whole lost 13-7, ending their chances at a possible SEC title game berth.
That was the mindset of the Auburn defense in the immediate aftermath of a frustrating road trip to Sanford Stadium. Auburn’s defense allowed only 6 points in the loss, as quarterback Sean White’s pick-6 served as Georgia’s only touchdown of the day.
“It’s very frustrating, but things happen,” junior safety Tray Matthews said. “We can’t put the blame on anybody. We’re still a team. Everything comes together.”
Matthews prevented his former team from scoring a touchdown on its second drive of the game. The Bulldogs tried a trick-play pass with receiver Terry Godwin, and Matthews was there to catch a badly-floated ball for the easiest interception of his career.
Only two more of Georgia’s 12 total drives went for 50 or more yards. Both of them ended in field goals. Auburn pitched a first-half shutout and held the Bulldogs to 4.51 yards per play — Georgia’s third-lowest output of the season.
“We tried to fight as hard as we could, and we lost as a team,” junior defensive end Carl Lawson said. “It was a very disappointing loss, but we’ve got to put it in our past and rebound.”
Lawson teamed up with senior defensive tackle Montravius Adams — another Georgia native — to wreak havoc on Georgia’s offensive line all game long. The duo combined for 12 tackles, 5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. Georgia’s star-studded rushing attack averaged just 3.1 yards per carry.
“They’re always effective,” Matthews said of Adams and Lawson. “They play big and fast. They definitely helped us out in getting to the quarterback.”
While Auburn’s defense kept Georgia from scoring a touchdown, redshirt freshman cornerback Javaris Davis said he felt like the Tigers could’ve done more on his side of the ball.
“That’s difficult, but we could’ve scored on defense,” Davis said. “We could’ve forced some more turnovers. We could’ve put the offense in better field position.”
Auburn had issues early in the game in defending deep balls from Georgia true freshman quarterback Jacob Eason. The Bulldogs hit two long throws — a 40-yarder negated by a holding call and a legal 57-yarder to Riley Ridley — in the first quarter.
Georgia almost had another one later in the quarter, but a no-call on an apparent pass interference bailed out the Tigers.
Eason didn’t hit any more huge throws in the game, but he finished a strong 8-for-12 passing on third downs. He also had eight completions that went for first downs.
“That was on us as DBs,” Davis said. “Coach preaches to us all the time that we don’t let them take the top of our coverage. That was our fault. We should’ve had better technique.”
Six allowed points are normally more than enough for an Auburn win, but the Tigers’ banged-up offense couldn’t deliver in the second half.
The Tigers’ defensive stars refused to place blame on anyone but themselves, though, as they watched their championship dreams fade away in Athens on Saturday night.
“We got this far by being together, and that’s how we’re going to stay, we’re going to stay together,” Lawson said. “We’re going to earn everything, we’ve still got a lot to fight for. This one sucks, but we’ve still got a lot to fight for.”