LSU missed its first fourth-quarter touchdown of 2016 by a couple seconds.
Quarterback Danny Etling threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver D.J. Chark with no time on the clock to seemingly give LSU a touchdown and a comeback victory over Auburn. But the play didn’t count because the ball was snapped after the clock expired and Auburn hung on for an 18-13 victory.
LSU had one second to get one last chance to score a touchdown after an illegal motion penalty on a fourth-down completion. The penalty happened as LSU scrambled to get set for the fourth-down play as the clock was running. Because the clock was running when the penalty happened, the down was replayed and the clock started on the official’s whistle. It hit zero before the Tigers could snap the ball.
And even if the play counted it would have been scrutinized heavily. Look where the line of scrimmage is and where Danny Etling threw the ball. A player’s entire body has to be across the neutral zone when the ball is thrown and it looks like Etling’s pass would have barely been legal.
The loss drops LSU to 2-2 and moves Auburn to 2-2. The game will undoubtedly reignite a discussion at LSU about coach Les Miles’ job security. While his team was so close to a comeback, the offense didn’t look threatening until the final drive.
A season that started with national championship hopes is pretty much done when it comes to the College Football Playoff. Wisconsin made the Tigers’ Week 1 loss look even better with its demolition of Michigan State on Saturday, but two losses put the Tigers on the periphery at best without severe chaos in the SEC.
There’s no telling how healthy Fournette is, either. The star running back, who had 16 carries for 101 yards, re-injured his left ankle on the last drive of the fourth quarter. He got hit on the ankle while attempting to catch a pass and it bent awkwardly as he was hit by another Auburn defender. Fournette spent much of the preseason recovering from the scrimmage injury and sat out the team’s Week 2 game vs. Jacksonville State after injuring it against Wisconsin.
But the offensive woes aren’t as simple as Fournette not being at 100 percent. Despite having weapons like wide receivers Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre on the outside, the passing game has struggled. Etling finished with 118 yards and a paltry 4.4 yards per attempt. Oh, and there’s that whole fourth-quarter scoring thing. Through four games, LSU has zero offensive points in the fourth quarter.
A loss to another set of Tigers (Missouri) in Week 5 would send Baton Rouge into a panic — if it’s not there already.
Auburn’s offense wasn’t too pretty either. It’s scoring came all from Daniel Carlson field goals as the rushing game was bottled up by LSU’s front. Auburn ran 49 times for 154 yards, though QB Sean White had an efficient game. White was 19-of-26 passing for 234 yards.
And efficient is something the Auburn offense hasn’t really been so far. Maybe it had something to do with a switch in play-calling duties. Al.com reported before the game that assistant Rhett Lashlee would call plays instead of head coach Gus Malzahn.
The win is also the first for Auburn at home in almost two years. It snaps a six-game SEC home losing streak that dates back to October 2014 and a win over South Carolina.
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