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A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn voodoo strikes again in chaotic SEC opener

Auburn teammates embrace after defeating the Missouri Tigers in overtime in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Sep. 23, 2022.
Auburn teammates embrace after defeating the Missouri Tigers in overtime in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Sep. 23, 2022.

Many thought the Jordan-Hare magic had worn off under head coach Bryan Harsin, but the Auburn voodoo came alive against Missouri as Auburn clinched its third win of the season in a wild overtime finish.

“The ball bounced our way,” said head coach Bryan Harsin. “We have not had a lot of things bounce our way.”

The game started perfectly for Auburn. After forcing Missouri into a three-and-out, Auburn orchestrated a 14-play drive to take an early lead. All 14 plays were runs as Auburn drove 59 yards.

Auburn continued its hot start when Derick Hall picked off a pass that was originally deflected by defensive back Nehemiah Pritchett. Hall returned the interception 19 yards to the Missouri 24-yard line.

Five plays later, Tank Bigsby punched it in to give Auburn a 14-0 lead. The touchdown carry was Bigsby’s 10th carry of the game - surpassing his carry total against Penn State where he only had nine rushes.

With a two-touchdown lead in the first quarter, it appeared that Auburn would have a smooth Saturday afternoon ahead of them, but Auburn reverted to the same offense it was against Penn State.

After running the ball with efficiency in the first quarter, Auburn recorded 34 total yards, only six of those on the ground and ran 13 plays in the second quarter. The sluggish offense allowed Missouri to tie the game at 14 entering halftime.

It was a sign of how the rest of the game would play out as Auburn’s offense faltered in the second half too.

Auburn’s first six drives of the second half all resulted in the same result: a punt. Auburn punter Oscar Chapman punted the ball eight times, the most since he punted it 10 times in last season’s Iron Bowl.

The streak of six consecutive punts was broken only when Auburn turned it over on downs in Missouri territory. On fourth-and-1, Harsin elected to keep the offense on the field at the Missouri 29 instead of sending out kicker Anders Carlson for a chance to take the lead.

Carlson missed a 45-yard field goal earlier at the end of the first half.

“In that moment it was like ‘we need to go for it,’” Harsin said. “You’re here to win this football game and I thought that was the right call.”

Missouri, who punted on every drive of the second half, suddenly found life offensively on the last drive of regulation. Led by a 39-yard pass to Dominic Lovett, Missouri drove 62 yards in 1:37 and drained the clock to attempt a game-winning field goal.

Then, Auburn got its first major break of the game. Lined up directly in the middle of the field, Missouri kicker Harrison Mevis’ field goal drifted wide right, and the game went to overtime.

Ashford threw an interception in overtime as Auburn got the ball first, but Harsin’s team was fortunate again when a review showed the ball hit the ground before it was possessed, meaning Auburn kept control of the ball.

“You think that might be a pick, and it ends up not being a pick,” Harsin said. “So we got another chance and that was huge. It just comes down to a game of inches.”

Carlson trotted out on fourth down looking to give Auburn the lead, but his field goal was no good. However, Missouri jumped offside, and the down was replayed. Carlson nailed his second chance, and Auburn led.

“It’s awesome to see that hard work pay off and get the dub,” Carlson said. “After so many ups and downs, we believed the whole time and because of that we got the win.”

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Auburn’s defense needed one last stop as Missouri got its chance with the ball, but it looked like the stout second-half performance would go to waste as Nathaniel Peat stormed towards the end zone. But, as Peat reached toward the goal line, he dropped the ball, and Cayden Bridges pounced on it in the end zone - prompting Auburn to win in one of the most unlikely ways possible.

“My heart stopped a couple times,” Hall said “It’s amazing. That’s what you come to Auburn for.”

With an SEC win under its belt, the schedule picks up next week with LSU coming to Auburn. The game is scheduled for 6 p.m. CST and will be broadcast on ESPN.

Jacob Waters | Sports Reporter

Jacob is a sophomore from Leeds, Alabama. This is his second year with The Auburn Plainsman. 

Twitter: @JacobWaters_

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