AUBURN, Ala. (AP)—The ball finally got to Courtney Taylor, the flag rescued John Vaughn and No. 14 Auburn proved itself an SEC contender.
Jason Campbell hit Taylor for a 16-yard touchdown pass with 1:14 to play and Auburn got two chances to kick the winning extra point in a 10-9 victory over No. 5 LSU Saturday.
“It was coming so slow, I was just saying, ‘Come on, get here ball,” said Taylor, whose first career touchdown catch proved huge.
Then, he watched in shock as LSU was nearly saved again by a missed extra point. Vaughn’s first PAT attempt went wide left after a low snap, but Ronnie Prude was called for a personal foul, giving Auburn (3-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) another shot.
“(There) couldn’t possibly be a bigger relief than that little yellow thing on the ground,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn drilled his next try through the uprights with holder Sam Rives saving another bad snap for Auburn’s 191st consecutive made PAT. It prevented a repeat of LSU’s season opener when Oregon State’s Alexis Serna missed his third extra point of the game in overtime for a 22-21 LSU victory.
LSU’s Ryan Gaudet instead missed the kick following LSU’s touchdown on a brilliant opening drive that was definitely not a sign of things to come.
“That’s a really tough game for our players,” LSU coach Nick Saban said. “We just had a lot of opportunities we squandered.”
Auburn’s final drive provided just about the only offensive dramatics. Campbell led a 12-play, 59-yard march that milked most of the remaining 6:38 off the clock.
Ronnie Brown had a 20-yard run and Campbell and Taylor did the rest, including a 14-yard pass on fourth-and-12 from the 28.
The score came on third-and-12, with Campbell finding Taylor in the back of the end zone. Taylor knelt on his right knee in quiet celebration after the score and many Auburn fans hung around after the game, far less quietly.
“It was a huge sigh of relief,” said Campbell, who was 16-of-27 for 170 yards and no interceptions. “We knew if we kept plugging, something would happen.”
Taylor wasn’t just worrying about the ball getting to him.
“At the same time, I was praying, ‘Please God, let me catch this ball,”’ he said.
LSU (2-1, 0-1), which had its 10-game winning streak snapped, moved into Auburn territory behind redshirt freshman quarterback JaMarcus Russell. But his final pass deflected off Early Doucet into the hands of Auburn’s Junior Rosegreen with 8 seconds left.
“It’s a tough way to lose a game,” Saban said. “And it’s a tough way to end a game.”
LSU pounded Auburn 31-7 last season in Baton Rouge, a crippling blow to a team that had SEC championship aspirations that now seem far more realistic.
“All we had to do was just keep giving our offense chances to score,” Rosegreen said. “It feels real good because last year they took our heart. All week, we’ve been thinking about payback.”
LSU’s shaky offense—with Russell and Marcus Randall rotating—finally caught up with the defending BCS champions.
The game’s status was in doubt until Friday morning because of Hurricane Ivan, which affected both Alabama and Louisiana but didn’t prevent a sellout crowd (87,451).
They were treated to a pair of defenses that allowed few yards and no points after the first 17 minutes in a stalemate that lasted nearly to the end.
The previous six meetings had been decided by an average of 20.5 points.
With both offenses playing conservatively, it was the defenses that tried to turn the momentum with big stops late in the third quarter.
LSU drove to Auburn’s 33 but got pushed back 30 yards by penalties and a sack.
Auburn moved to the LSU 3 but Campbell’s pass to Anthony Mix in the end zone fell incomplete on fourth down.
“We were just fighting for field position, because we knew we could make a 50-yard drive,” Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. “We just kept fighting and fighting to get that field position.”
Randall directed a nearly flawless opening drive, moving LSU 80 yards on 14 plays and hitting Dwayne Bowe for a 9-yard touchdown pass. LSU only completed one more pass before the half and Randall was 0-for-3 the rest of the way.
“After that opening drive, we just said we weren’t going to give them anything else,” Auburn’s Stanley McGlover said.
Auburn then drove to LSU’s 5-yard line but settled for Vaughn’s 29-yard field goal. The only other scoring until the final minutes was Chris Jackson’s 42-yard field goal for LSU early in the second quarter.