Auburn overcame a Roc Thomas fumble, and two Jeremy Johnson interceptions, to beat the Jacksonville State Gamecocks 27-20 at home.
Barber scored what turned out to be the game winning touchdown when he dove over the goal line. The Auburn offensive line opened up a hole on the left side, and Barber went right through it before leaping across the goal line. JSU had been unable to stop Barber during the Tigers’ game-winning drive in the first overtime.
WR Josh Barge went out-of-bounds, and never re-established himself in-bounds, before going up to catch a long pass from QB Eli Jenkins. The incomplete pass brought an end to the Gamecock’s upset bid over No. 6 Auburn. Jacksonville State’s drive was extended by a pass interference call; Barge was pushed to the ground by Carlton Davis as he tried to catch the football. Then quarterback.
After a terrible Gamecocks punt, Auburn took over at JSU’s own 31 yard line. The Tigers then marched right down the field to score a game tying touchdown. Quaterback Jeremy Johnson threw the ball at the back corner of the endzone; wideout Melvin Ray went up, caught the ball, and placed one foot inside the chalk to score the game tying touchdown.
The ensuing kickoff was booted out-of-bounds, and Jacksonville State got the ball on its 35 with 39 seconds left in the game. Jacksonville State quarterback Eli Jenkins then took a knee to send the game to overtime.
Roc Thomas had the ball stripped by the a pair of Jacksonville State defenders with 3:06 left in the game. Auburn had been driving to tie the game, which included several good runs by Barber, and it looked like the Gamecocks had no answer for the Tigers offense.
Jacksonville State was unable to do anything with possession of the ball, and the Gamecocks were forced to punt. Unfortunately for JSU, the punter shanked the kick and it only went 20+ yards to the 31.
The Tigers reclaimed the lead on a 51-yard pass from Johnson to Thomas in the third quarter. Johnson found Thomas streaking down the sideline, with no one around him, to retake the lead.
Jenkins found Barge curling back towards the goal line for Jacksonville State’s first touchdown of the game. The Gamecock’s offensive line gave him all the time in the world to find an open receiver, and he did. Barge’s touchdown gave JSU a 10-3 lead heading into the halftime locker room.
Auburn and Jacksonville State swapped field goals to open up scoring.
Auburn’s offense was absolutely awful in the victory, and Johnson was a big reason why. The Tigers’ quarterback struggled to hit his receivers, while the offensive line struggled to protect the pocket and give him enough time. Another problem the Tigers had was their defense’s was unable to control the line of scrimmage and put pressure on the quarterback.
It’s going to be an interesting to see how head coach Gus Malzahn adjust his offense to the team’s weaknesses that JSU exposed.