(SL) – Going into the 2nd half Louisville didn’t have any points on the board. By the end of the 4th quarter, Auburn was hoping time would expire so Louisville couldn’t put anymore points on the board. It was a good one indeed inside the Georgia Dome as the Cardinals and Tigers went head to head in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Game.
It was just the 2nd time these two teams have met. The first was back in 1974. Auburn leads the series 2-0 after beating Louisville 31-24.
Auburn jumped out early on Louisville and by the top of the 3rd quarter the score was 21-0. Will Muschamp’s revamped defense came up with a couple of huge plays.
The former Florida coach made his debut as Auburn’s defensive coordinator, charged with turning around a unit that fell apart late last season. The first half of the opening game was promising, with an interception leading to the Tigers’ first touchdown and Justin Garrett scoring on an 82-yard fumble return.
The Tigers thwarted the schemes of the Louisville coach and offensive maestro Bobby Petrino with tackles for losses and sacks for even bigger losses. The Tigers’ relentless pressure chased Reggie Bonnafon, the Cardinals’ starting quarterback, from the game; it smothered the Louisville run game.
The fun was almost erased by the junior quarterback Jeremy Johnson’s mistakes and the comeback heroics of Lamar Jackson, Louisville’s freshman quarterback, but No. 6 Auburn still held on for a 31-24 victory over the Cardinals.
fter Auburn built a seemingly comfortable 31-10 lead with just over 10 minutes to go, Jackson led a couple of late touchdown drives that made the Tigers sweat it out.
“I thought he really did a nice job,” Petrino said. “He competed extremely hard. We saw that in practice. Coming into the game, we knew we were going to play him.”
Jackson sliced through the Auburn defense with his speed and elusiveness, and the Cards scored four times in the second half, pulling to within 7 points with 2 minutes 59 seconds remaining on Brandon Radcliff’s second two-yard touchdown run of the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals were a successful onside kick away from having the opportunity to take the Tigers into overtime and perhaps giving the Atlantic Coast Conference a significant win over the Southeastern Conference.
But Auburn recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
Auburn will play Jacksonville State on the 12th. While Louisville will host Houston.
Louisville: 240 rushing yards … 27 first downs … 8-16 on third downs … 30+ minutes of possession.
Lamar Jackson: 100 yards passing, 105 rushing yards, 1 rush TD, 1 INT.
Brandon Radcliff: 19 carries, 81 yards, 2 TD.
Devonte Peete: 3 catches, 60 yards.
Josh Harvey-Clemons: 2 INT.
Auburn: 187 rushing yards … three turnovers … 20 first downs … 4-10 on third down.
Jeremy Johnson: 11-21, 140 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT.
Peyton Barber: 25 carries, 109 yards.
Ricardo Louis: 3 catches, 55 yards, 1 receiving TD; 4 carries, 20 yards, 1 rushing TD.