While many said the Auburn Tigers would be easily outmatched by Texas A&M, it appears no one told Auburn before they went into their game on Saturday.
In typical Johnny Football fashion, the Aggies scored first and quickly on their first possession. Manziel connected with receiver Mike Evans on the 6th play of the drive for a 26-yard touchdown. Josh Lambo's kick was good.
The Tigers made the best of their first possession as well. The 10-play drive covered 86 yards. Corey Grant made the big play during the drive with a 32-yard rush to the Aggie 33. Nick Marshall made the touchdown with a 16-yard rush and Cody Parkey evened the score with the extra point.
An interception gave Auburn the chance to pull ahead for the first time in the game. Ryan Smith nabbed the Manziel pass from the air at the Auburn 38. The following drive came up short, though, with the Tigers settling for a field goal. Facing 9 yards on 4th and goal, Cody Parkey came in to add the 27-yard kick to the score.
The Tiger lead wouldn't last for long with Johnny Manziel making 2 connections to Evans for a quick touchdown drive. The first play saw Evans grab 11 yards and the second added 64 yards and ended in the endzone. Lambo's extra point set the score at 14-10.
A fumble by Nick Marshall at half field made the situation look bleak for Auburn as the Aggies recovered it, but it turned around again when Ryan White made an interception at the Auburn 4. The long distance was overcome in 12-plays that ran time into the second quarter. Over half the distance in the drive was made by Jay Prosch with a 56-yard pass reception. A pass to Quan Bray added the touchdown by grabbing 13 yards and the lead of the game again. Parkey's kick was good.
Just when things were looking up for Auburn, A&M found their momentum and managed to pull ahead just before halftime. At 5:28 in the second quarter, the Aggies fought their way down to the Auburn 19 and were facing 4th and 8. Lambo kicked the 37-yard field goal and tied the game up at 17-17. The next two series were punted away by the teams, but the Aggies found another chance to score with the Manziel/Evans combo. The first play of the drive was a 42-yard pass to Evans for the score with 24 seconds in the half. Auburn's attempts to score in the remaining time were unsuccessful.
The Tigers came back from the halftime and tied the game again in their second possession of the half. The 6-play drive covered 65 yards. The Tigers saw a steady progression down the field, but rocketed away when Sammie Coates took a Marshall pass for 43 yards and the score. Parkey's kick was good.
The Aggies retaliated on the following possession with 9-play drive and another touchdown. Working their way down the field to the Auburn 33, Manziel found Evans for the 4th touchdown reception at the 4:06 mark in the third quarter. Lambo's extra point set the score at 31-24.
At the beginning of the 4th quarter A&M was able to add another field goal, but the Aggie fans could only focus on the apparent injury to QB Johnny Manziel two plays prior. Manziel left the field and Matt Joeckel took over the Aggie offense. Joeckel got one down before Lambo kicked the 20-yard kick, bringing the score to 34-24.
The Tigers worked hard to try to close the gap during Manziel's absence. In a 7-play drive over 75 yards, Auburn found another touchdown with Nick Marshall rushing 13-yards into the endzone. The big playmaker in the drive was Sammie Coates, again, with a 32-yard pass reception.
After a quick stop of the Manziel-less A&M offense, the Tigers were able to reclaim the lead with another touchdown. The 5-play drive covered 69 yards. Tre Mason made the brunt of the yardage with a rush for 53 yards. Two plays later, Cameron Artis-Payne made the score with a 2-yard rush and Cody Parkey's kick set the score at 38-34.
Manziel made his return to the game and, despite his injury, didn't seem to miss a stride. The opening play of the possession saw Manziel connect to Mike Evans for a quick 26 yards. From there, the Aggies relentlessly pushed down the field. Manziel finished the drive with a 1-yard rush into the endzone. Lambo's extra point now separated the score by a field goal with 5:05 remaining on the clock.
Auburn's final drive of the game saw the Tigers throw out a challenge for the Aggies. A 13-play drive got Auburn another touchdown and left the Aggies 1:19 in the game. Tre Mason rushed the 5-yards for the score and Parkey's kick was good. The score was set at 45-41 in Auburn's favor.
The Aggies took the ball and pressed down to the Auburn 21, but the Tiger defense stayed strong and forced them to down. Tigers win 45-41.
Next week, Auburn takes on Florida Atlantic. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m.
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