The Deep South's oldest rivals came into their 109th meeting separated by one point. Now make it Auburn by two. In a wild game that came...
ATHENS, Ga. — The Deep South’s oldest rivals came into their 109th meeting separated by one point.
Now make it Auburn by two.
In a wild game that came down to the craziest play of all, Devin Aromashodu went 62 yards with a fourth-down pass, setting up John Vaughn’s 20-yard field goal with 6 seconds left that gave the Tigers a 31-30 victory over No. 9 Georgia on Saturday night.
Aromashodu fumbled at the end of his big play, but teammate Courtney Taylor bailed out the 15th-ranked Tigers by recovering the ball before it rolled out of the end zone.
The touchdown didn’t count — the fumble couldn’t be advanced — so Auburn got the ball at the Georgia 3. That was actually better for the Tigers, allowing them to run the clock down before Vaughn’s chip shot.
“It will go down as a classic,” Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said.
Or just another Auburn-Georgia game.
The schools first met in 1892, and with the win Auburn pushed its record against the Bulldogs to 53-48-8. But the closeness of the series is best exemplified by the cumulative score — Auburn 1,650, Georgia 1,648.
All the news Saturday wasn’t good for Auburn. The Tigers’ hopes of reaching the Southeastern Conference championship game took a major blow before the kickoff.
The Tigers (8-2, 6-1 SEC) were hoping hated rival Alabama would remain unbeaten, setting up a head-to-head showdown for the Western Division title next week at Auburn.
But the Crimson Tide lost to LSU 16-13 in overtime shortly before the Auburn-Georgia game kicked off, putting the Bayou Bengals in control of the division race. LSU needs to beat SEC West weaklings Mississippi and Arkansas to earn a trip to Atlanta for the title game on Dec. 3.
Georgia (7-2, 5-2) is actually in better shape despite the loss. Helped out by South Carolina’s upset of Florida, the Bulldogs can still claim a spot in the SEC’s championship game with a win over lowly Kentucky next week.
“We still control our own destiny,” Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley said. “As bad as this feels, we still have a lot to play for.”
In a game featuring eight lead changes, Auburn came through when it counted. On fourth-and-10 at his 34, Brandon Cox found Aromashodu breaking free over the middle.
“When it’s fourth down you just cross your fingers and hope,” said Auburn’s Kenny Irons, who ran for 179 yards.
The receiver made the catch in stride and raced for the end zone. Just short of the goal line, Georgia defensive back Paul Oliver managed to knock the ball away.
Said Aromashodu, on his thoughts when the ball came loose: “It was terror. I was trying to get my balance so I could recover.”
Auburn got it at the 3 with 1:52 remaining.
The winner erased some of the sting from Vaughn’s 1-of-6 performance against LSU last month, a game Auburn lost in overtime that might keep the Tigers out of the SEC championship game.
“It’s tough, but that’s just part of being a kicker,” said Vaughn, who took the advice of his father to heart. “He told me, ‘If you hit a game-winner against Georgia or Alabama, nobody will remember.’
“It feels like redemption.”