COLLEGE STATION, Texas. (EETV) – Auburn was not able to secure a win in its SEC opener, losing to Texas A&M 27-10 in a game in which the Tigers were never able to find a rhythm on offense.
The passing attack was an especially glaring issue for the Tigers in College Station. The Auburn quarterback trio of Payton Thorne, Robby Ashford, and Holden Geriner only completed 39 percent of their passes for just 56 yards and no touchdowns.
The Auburn quarterbacks were not helped by the offensive line, which allowed seven sacks. Thorne was especially vulnerable to the protection issues, being sacked five times over the course of the game. The A&M defense seemed able to create pressure at will, even when rushing as few as three.
“We had people open, and we either missed them, or the pressure distracted us, it seems,” said Coach Hugh Freeze when asked about the offense’s difficulties through the air. “We certainly missed a few opportunities in the passing game.”
The Auburn rushing attack was better, amassing 170 yards, not counting the 37 yards lost on sacks. Brian Battie led the team with 59 yards on just eight carries, and he was closely followed by Jarquez Hunter who carried the ball 9 times for 53 yards. Robby Ashford also helped with the rushing attack, adding 25 yards on the ground.
Auburn’s first points of the afternoon were scored off the foot of kicker Alex McPherson. The freshman drilled a 53-yard field goal, his career-long, to put the Tigers on the board just before the half.
The Tigers’ only touchdown of the day came in the fourth quarter and was courtesy of Senior linebacker Eugene Asante, who recovered a fumble forced by corner Kayin Lee and returned it 67 yards for the score. Asante also recorded 9 tackles, 7 of which were solo, to continue the outstanding start to his senior season.
The Auburn defense played well overall, allowing only 121 first-half yards. However, A&M quarterback Connor Weigman was injured near the end of the first half, which proved to be a turning point for the Aggies. Weigman’s replacement, former LSU transfer and senior Max Johnson, was 7-11 for 193 yards and 2 touchdowns in the second half.
Unfortunately, the Auburn offense couldn’t keep up with A&M’s higher energy in the 2nd half. The Tigers could only muster 88 second-half yards, 86 of which came in the final quarter on Auburn’s final 2 drives.
Finally, with under five minutes left in the 4th quarter, Aggie running back Amari Daniels ripped off a 79-yard rush which was quickly followed by a 4-yard touchdown run by Le’Veon Moss that pushed the Aggie’s lead to 27-10 and put the final nail in the Tigers’ coffin.
“I thought our kids played well enough on defense to win the game, outside of the few explosive plays,” said Coach Freeze after the game. “On offense, we’re searching. And we’ve got to find some answers.”
Auburn will need to find answers quickly, as the Tigers’ next opponent is the #1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs. The Bulldogs will come to Jordan-Hare stadium next week as Auburn looks to end a 6-game losing streak to the team from Athens in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.