The three interceptions thrown by Auburn quarterback Bo Nix proved costly for the Tigers in Saturday’s 30-22 loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks.
"When you look at it, the statsheet, you know—as far as the statsheet, we played pretty good football, but the three turnovers, obviously, were big," said Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn. "They led to 21 points."
Nix tossed two interceptions in the second quarter, the first being picked off on the Auburn 29-yard line. Before the interception, a false start penalty pushed Auburn back five yards, and on the following play, Nix was pressured by South Carolina's Tonka Hemingway and intercepted.
A two-minute touchdown drive by the Gamecocks cut Auburn’s lead to only two points three minutes into the second quarter after a Kevin Harris 3-yard run.
Nix’s second interception came off a pass that went through Auburn wide receiver Seth Williams’ hands and straight into the arms of a South Carolina defender. The Gamecocks proceeded to go on a nearly four and a half minute drive that led to a rushing touchdown for quarterback Collin Hill.
“We have to execute better,” Auburn wide receiver Eli Stove said. “We put [Nix] in a lot of bad spots.”
Heading into halftime, the Tigers took a 16-14 lead into the locker room and received the ball to start the second half.
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"But still, we were still in, I felt, in pretty good shape coming out of halftime," Malzahn said. "We got the ball coming out. We had the lead, and went down and put 3 on the board, which I thought was big."
The third and final interception in the game came late in the third quarter. The Gamecocks were driving down the field and Auburn linebacker Owen Pappoe intercepted a pass with South Carolina inside Auburn’s 20-yard line.
The Tigers' drive went four plays before Nix threw his third interception of the game, this one to Jaycee Horn for his second interception of the day.
Horn returned the interception to the Auburn eight-yard line, and the Gamecocks scored a touchdown just one play later on a Kevin Harris 8-yard run to put them up 27-19.
Despite the loss, Malzahn is confident that Auburn and Nix can rebound from the loss to South Carolina.
“He’s a competitor,” Malzahn said. “We just need to go back and improve, we need to protect the football."
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