Auburn’s embattled defense has stepped up against Ole Miss’ high-powered offense. The Tigers had the Rebels on the ropes before losing to the Rebels, 27-19.
Auburn managed to keep it close despite a mediocre performance offensively. Starting quarterback Sean White has played with an apparent left knee injury and the Tigers rotated former starter Jeremy Johnson and even tailback Kerryon Johnson into the mix at quarterback.
The story was Auburn’s defense. Ole Miss entered Saturday averaging 41 points, but the Tigers kept Chad Kelly and the Rebels offense to just 27 points.
Big plays helped the Tigers on offense. White hit receiver Ricardo Louis for a 47-yard touchdown in the second half and some big runs by Jovon Robinson kept the Tigers alive. White connected with Louis again on 3rd and 10 for a 46-yard completion on a drive that got Auburn within four points. Then, after Auburn picked off Kelly at midfield, coach Gus Malzahn drew up some trickery to help get the Tigers within one point.
Auburn wideout Jason Smith got a running head start and took the handoff while sprinting to the right sideline. Before turning the corner, Smith flipped the ball back to quarterback Jeremy Johnson, who had lined up as a wide receiver on the outside. Johnson fired a ball deep down field into double coverage and it was caught by wideout Tony Stevens, who seemed to have pushed off before making the catch.
UPDATE: Ole Miss answered Auburn’s comeback hopes minutes after the Tigers had cut the deficit to one point. The Rebels extended the lead to 27-19 in fewer than two minutes thanks to two big completions from Kelly to Laquon Treadwell. Kelly hit Treadwell on a 33-yard pass earlier in the drive before the duo connected again for a perfectly thrown 21-yard touchdown pass.
UPDATE (3:40 p.m.): The Tigers had one last shot to tie the game, but Jeremy Johnson was under duress and forced a wobbly pass that fell incomplete. Ole Miss held on to win, 27-19.