Nix leads No. 16 Auburn from 15 down to beat No. 11 Oregon

Nix tosses game-winner to Seth Williams with 9 seconds to play

Nix leads No. 16 Auburn from 15 down to beat No. 11 Oregon
Auburn quarterback Bo Nix in the first half Auburn vs Oregon on Saturday Aug. 31 2019 in Dallas, TX Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics (Source: Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics)

DALLAS (WSFA) - Bo Knows game-winner. What a night it was for Bo Nix and the Auburn Tigers. Nix led the No. 15 Tigers (1-0) back from 15 down to beat the No. 11 Oregon Ducks (0-1) 27-21.

In his first-ever collegiate game, Nix tossed a game-winner to Seth Williams with 9 seconds to play that gave the Tigers their first lead all night.

Auburn's Seth Williams catches a touchdown to win the game. Auburn vs Oregon on Saturday Aug. 31 2019 in Dallas, TX Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics
Auburn's Seth Williams catches a touchdown to win the game. Auburn vs Oregon on Saturday Aug. 31 2019 in Dallas, TX Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics (Source: Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics)

They trailed 21-6 with 9:23 to play in the third quarter and scored the game’s final 21 points.

Oregon received the game’s opening kick and scored on their opening possession. After seven plays, the Ducks were on the goal line looking to break through. A 47-yard throw and catch from Justin Herbert and Johnny Johnson III set the Ducks up, but Auburn’s defense was relentless. Oregon was stuffed on the first two plays and then replay review ruled Herbert was ruled down at the half-yard line after he was initially said to have broken the plane and scored. On 4th and goal though the Ducks would score. CJ Verdell broke through the Auburn defense and Oregon was on the board.

Nix, the true freshman, was shaky in the first half of his college career. He was 6-18 for 91 yards and two critical interceptions thrown. He would finish 13 of 31 for 177 yards and two touchdowns to go along with the two interceptions.

Both teams struggled in the first half with missed opportunities.

Oregon opened their second drive in Auburn territory after a 29-yard return set them up nicely. Auburn got the Ducks in a 3rd and 7 but Oregon was able to move the chains and move inside the red zone. A strong run by Travis Dye on the next play landed the Ducks inside the 5-yard line and Auburn was in danger of falling behind two touchdowns.

The Ducks had a sure-fire touchdown but wide receiver Bryan Addison had the TD pass bounce off his shoulder pads and then Oregon botched the 20-yard field goal on fourth down.

Auburn was then in business. Nix connected with Will Hastings for 38 yards for his first collegiate completion. Then Nix on a keeper rushed for 19 yards to the Oregon 23, but the Auburn drive would stall and the field goal unit was on the field. The third down pressure forced Nix out of the pocket and forced him to throw it away for the second straight possession.

Anders Carlson nailed the 40-yard field goal to put the Tigers on the board for the first time in 2019. Still, Auburn trailed 7-3 in the first.

The Auburn defense didn’t do the offense any favors though. On Oregon’s first play of the next possession, Verdell broke off a long 37-yard run with a 15-yard facemask penalty added on at the end.

Two plays later, Herbert tossed his first touchdown of the season. After rolling left, Herbert stopped and launched the ball back right, towards the end zone at his receiver Spencer Webb, who pulled it down over Auburn defender Javaris Davis for the touchdown. Oregon pushed its lead to 14-3.

Auburn’s ensuing drive stalled highlighted by Nix’s first interception of the half.

With the Tigers just outside the 10 Nix was intercepted while trying to throw across his body on the run. Oregon’s Thomas Graham Jr. intercepted Nix to kill Auburn’s scoring threat.

Later in the second quarter after an 81-yard punt return landed Oregon at the Auburn 9, Justin Herbert fumbled the read option handoff and Auburn’s Big Kat Bryant returned it nearly 90 yards for a touchdown before being caught from behind.

Auburn now with the 1st and goal opportunity, Nix nearly fumbled it back to Oregon when he never received the snap under center cleanly. Then on third down, Nix nearly threw his second interception of the first half. Luckily the pass fell incomplete and Carlson knocked through his second field goal of the first half. But Auburn still trailed 14-6.

Nix would throw his second interception of the first half with just a bit more than 1:30 to play. It was nearly a critical moment as Auburn was looking to score going into the break as they received the second half kickoff. But the defense held Oregon to a three-and-out and gave them one more chance.

A strong Auburn kick return with a 15-yard penalty added on at the end set the Tigers up deep into Oregon territory, but their drive would stall with Anders Carlson missing a 42-yard attempt with 7 seconds to play. Auburn went into the half trailing 14-6.

Auburn received the ball to begin the second half but went three and out.

Another strong Oregon return set them up near midfield to begin their second half. They would not be denied. Herbert delivered a perfectly-thrown ball to moved the chains when it looked like the Ducks might settle for a field goal. Inside the 10, a stretch run by Oregon’s Darrian Felix extended into the end zone from 6 yards out and the Ducks were up 21-6 early in the third quarter.

After both teams traded punts Auburn finally found the end zone with 4:20 to play in the third quarter.

Eli Stove took a jet sweep 36 yards to the Auburn 11. On the next play, Nix found Stove on a quick pass while Oregon was confused for his first career touchdown pass. Stove practically walked into the end zone, pulling Auburn to within eight, making the score 21-13.

With the clock ticking towards two minutes to play in the third quarter, Auburn forced Oregon into a 4th and 1 situation close to midfield. After taking a timeout to think about it, Oregon decided to punt it away.

Auburn really picked it up with the running game in the second half. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn fed the Oregon defense a steady dose of JaTarvious Whitlow.

Malzahn opened the fourth quarter with a faked handoff end around that was stopped by the Oregon defense and Auburn was forced to punt.

After Auburn’s defense forced Oregon to punt, the Tigers moved the ball down the field with the combination of Nix’s arm and Whitlow’s legs. A 31-yard rush by Whitlow put the Tigers in Oregon territory. Whitlow again used his legs to give Auburn a 1st and goal opportunity.

On 1st and goal, Auburn punched it in with Joey Gatewood to pull to within two points. Going for the two-point conversion and the tie, a false start set the Tigers back five yards and Malzahn was forced to kick the extra point. Carlson nailed the extra point and Auburn was now trailing 21-20 with 9:48 to play in the game.

But Oregon had an answer. They were able push back, moving into Auburn territory before facing a critical 4th and 1 situation. Herbert had to leave the game with an injury and so backup Justin Shough had to step in. With 5:34 to play in the game, Oregon went for it and was stuffed. The Auburn defense stood tall and put the offense on the field with a chance to take the lead.

Auburn was forced to go three and out with their possession but held all three of their timeouts with Oregon having none remaining with 4:31 to play.

Oregon picked up a first down, huge in this situation to move the clock towards the three-minute mark. The Auburn defense was able to sack Herbert on second down and Malzahn used the first of his handy timeouts with 2:28 to play. Now facing 3rd and 14, Oregon tried to throw for the first but came up way short and the Auburn defense was off the field and Malzahn had used his second timeout with 2:21 to play in the game.

Auburn took the field with 2:14 on the clock. Nix hit Seth Williams for a short gain. Auburn went no huddle and Nix kept it on the read option on second down. On 3rd and 3, Nix’s pass to Sal Canella came up just short and now came 4th and 3. Auburn went for it and Nix lunged forward and picked up the first down.

At midfield, Auburn now had 1:21 to move into field goal range. Whitlow was tackled for a loss in bounds on first down. Nix’s second down pass got to the Oregon 41 and set up a third and short. Malzahn used his final timeout with 31 seconds. On 3rd and 1, Auburn put in Whitlow’s hands again and he picked up the first down. Just on the fringe of field goal range, Auburn spiked the ball with 25 seconds left to bring up second down. Malzahn called a passing play that fell short of its intended receiver. 21 seconds. On 3rd and 10, Nix threw an out route to Williams that gave Auburn a first down well within Carlson’s range and with 16 seconds left. Next play, Nix hit Williams again who hauled in the pass and Auburn had its first lead with 9 seconds to play.

Oregon was tackled on the ensuing kickoff with just one more play to run in the game. Herbert’s Hail Mary attempt sailed through the end zone and the Auburn Tigers had completed the comeback.

Next up, the Tigers will welcome Tulane to Jordan-Hare Stadium next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m.

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