Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, center, runs the ball in the first half during an NCAA college football game against Auburn, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
AUBURN – With a weekend full of upsets, the Auburn Tigers hoped to do the same as they welcomed Dabo Sweeny and the No. 2 Clemson Tigers to Jordan-Hare Stadium, but it was not to be as Auburn fell to Clemson 19-13.
“Offensively, obviously in the first half was a big struggle,” was the statement made by Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn about the Tigers’ inability to find the end zone in the first half.
Despite not finding pay dirt in the first half, Auburn was the first on the board when Daniel Carson drilled a 53-yard field goal with 12:58 left in the second half, capping a 12-play, 44-yard drive. It was Carlson’s sixth career field goal of 50 yards or more, breaking the Auburn record held by Neil O’Donoghue since the ’75-’76 season. This put the home standing Tigers on top 3-0 but the lead was short-lived.
Clemson came roaring back with a long 13-play, 84-yard drive that ended on a Wayne Gallman 1-yard plunge for the score. Greg Huegle added the PAT to give Clemson the 7-3 advantage, an advantage they would never relinquish. Huegle added a 30-yard field goal as time was winding down in the first half, putting Clemson on top 10-3 heading to the locker room.
It would be the visiting Tigers that would dent the scoreboard once again in the third, and again it was off the foot of Huegle. The 40-yard boot put Clemson on top 13-3 as the game headed to the fourth.
Auburn secured points less than two minutes into the fourth on a Carlson 32-yard kick that split the uprights and pulled the Auburn Tigers to within 10 points of Clemson with 13:46 left to play.
Unfortunately for Auburn, Clemson answered with a touchdown, a 16-yard strike to the far corner of the end zone from Heisman favorite Deshaun Watson to Hunter Renfrow with 9:59 left on the game clock. Following the failed PAT, Clemson led 19-6.
Auburn crossed the goal line for the first time in the 2016 campaign when Kerryon Johnson punched it in from 9 yards out. Carlson nailed the PAT to pull Auburn to within a touchdown, 19-13.
The Tigers of Auburn had a chance for the upset, but the last ditch, 40-yard Hail Mary from Sean White was tipped and fell incomplete and Clemson escaped Jordan-Hare with the victory.
“That was one of the best offensive teams in college football,” said Malzahn about the Clemson Tigers and his defense’s ability to limit their scores. “Holding those guys to 19 points I thought was really unbelievable.”
Auburn will host Arkansas State nest Saturday at 6:30 p.m. as Clemson has their home opener against Troy. That game is slated for an 11:30 a.m. kickoff.
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