AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) - Auburn suffered a close loss to SEC West rivals LSU, 21-17. Auburn's Achilles heel was ball security, as the Tigers totaled four turnovers with six fumbles.
Auburn's offense has been stagnant in recent games but came out with a point to prove, earning 438 yards compared to LSU's 270. The difference maker was the turnover rate, nullifying Auburn's offense and any momentum they picked up. On the season, Auburn has a -9 turnover differential, putting them in the bottom five teams in FBS.
"The tale of the game comes down to the turnovers. We put the ball on the ground too many times," said Auburn Head Coach Brian Harsin. "They won the turnover battle, and that's going to be a huge factor in the game."
A muffed punt by Keionte Scott and a late interception from Koy Moore on a trick play with two minutes left sealed Auburn's loss.
Ashford showed off his arm despite his one interception with 337 yards and two touchdowns paired with 19 yards on the ground.
The highly acclaimed Auburn running back room was held nearly silent with 80 yards split among Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter.
On the defense, Wesley Steiner had a career day for Auburn with a career-high 11 tackles.
"It doesn't surprise me at all. He does it all the time in practice," defensive captain Owen Pappoe said about Steiner. "He finally got his shot this week to come out and play a lot, and I'm proud of him."
A bizarre opening kickoff left LSU a man down after Sevyn Banks was carted off the field after hitting return man Scott. Not only was Banks injured in the collision, but the play was ruled targeting, ejecting Banks regardless if he would be healthy enough to re-enter the game.
Auburn started quickly with a 53-yard touchdown from Ashford to Ja'Varrius Johnson to cap off the only touchdown on the opening drive since Mercer on week one. Across the game, Johnson hauled in 3 catches for 74 yards and the touchdown.
In the second quarter, Auburn extended their lead to 14 with another Ashford passing touchdown to Camden Brown from 18 yards out. The following Auburn drive ended in a 29-yard field goal by Anders Carlson.
LSU found themselves on the board with a scoop and score from Jay Ward after a hit on Ashford from BJ Ojulari.
LSU took their first lead of the game with a 20-yard rush from John Emery, Jr to make it 21-17 in favor of the Tigers from Louisiana.
The score stayed the same, but the fourth quarter was filled with excitement, featuring two fumbles, an interception and a muffed punt.
Auburn had opportunity after opportunity to close the game out and come away with the win, but turnovers and poor playcalling ended the game. Auburn has not scored in the second half in two weeks, a concern from last season.
"We have to go back and look at what we did well, what are the things we have to work on, and then just close that gap. We've got to find ways to finish and play four quarters," said Harsin. "It comes down to four quarters of executing. Doing the little things."
Up next, Auburn hits the road for the first time this year to face No. 1 Georgia in Athens. KickoffKickoff is at 2:30 PM CT and will be broadcasted on CBS.