AUBURN, Ala. — The LSU defense gave up a lot of yards Saturday night but still played well enough to win.
The problem: Auburn’s defense played even better.
In a hard-fought game at Jordan-Hare Stadium, LSU held Auburn to six field goals. But Auburn’s defense helped make the kicks stand, especially in the waning minutes, for an 18-13 Southeastern Conference win on a steamy night.
Daniel Carlson’s field goals of 51, 29, 29, 31, 37 and 29 yards spoiled a valiant defensive performance by LSU, which included a goal-line stand just before halftime that kept Auburn from stretching its 9-7 lead heading to the locker room.
Auburn, however, did LSU one better.
When LSU threatened to pull out the win with a long touchdown drive in the final two minutes, Auburn, which allowed the only touchdown in the first quarter, kept the visitors out of the end zone to preserve the victory.
LSU reached the Auburn 10 with 24 seconds to play, but an illegal shift penalty pushed LSU back five yards to the 15 with 1 second on the clock. LSU had no timeouts left, and after review the officials ruled the clock expired before Danny Etling took the snap even though he delivered a pass to D.J. Chark in the back of the end zone.
“I thought our defense was on the field too long,” a sullen LSU coach Les Miles said. “If we had some big early drives and score some points on offense, our defense would do better.
“Our defense made the plays when they needed them,” he said. “With nine minutes left, they (Auburn) had their heavy personnel in, and they were going to run it. But we realized there was too much time.”
Carlson’s final field goal came after one last stop by LSU with 2:56 to play. It pushed the lead to five points, but it gave LSU time to mount one final drive and score a touchdown.
But it wasn’t to be when LSU ran out of time.
It was typical of the evening for LSU’s offense, whose only touchdown came in the first quarter on a 3-yard pass from Danny Etling to Foster Moreau.
After Auburn regained the lead at 9-7 in the second quarter, the defense rose up and had the goal-line stand — which was keyed by solid back-to-back stops on third- and fourth-and-goal by inside linebacker Kendell Beckwith.
Frank Herron had a stop on first down and Beckwith held Kammyrn Pettway to no gain before Beckwith and John Battle stopped Kerryon Johnson cold just short of the goal line with 39 seconds left.
Indeed, it could have been a huge spot for LSU after keeping Auburn out of the end zone and getting the ball to start the second half.
“We stopped them,” Miles said. “To me, that was something we could enjoy (going into the second half). It was tremendous. They basically couldn’t get in from a yard out. … They couldn’t get in.”
But LSU’s offense couldn’t do anything with the break and had to punt on their first possession of the second half. It wound up getting just two Colby Delahoussaye field goals in the second half.
On the other hand, members of LSU’s defense didn't blame the offense for the loss.
“That goal-line stand helped out; we got the stop and were getting the ball in the second half,” said outside linebacker Arden Key, who forced Auburn quarterback Sean White to fumble while being sacked in the red zone. “I felt the goal-line stand was going to be a big momentum-booster for us.”
But there was the other side of it, he said.
“We could have gotten off the field on third down a little better,” Key said. “We tried to hold them, but they got three points on us.”
“It’s not all on our offense,” free safety Jamal Adams said. “It’s not just an offensive game. It’s a team game.
“That goal-line stand was something I thought we could capitalize on, but we didn’t. We could have done more to stop them from kicking field goals, so it’s not only on the offense.”