AUBURN, Ala. — Coach Les Miles’ shaky clock management reared its ugly head late in the first half of LSU’s loss at Auburn on Saturday night.
LSU had one timeout left but didn’t use it, and the second-quarter clock ran out on quarterback Brandon Harris’ incomplete pass incomplete to Travin Dural in the corner of the end zone.
Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium roared, and several LSU players just stood on the field in shock. LSU was at the Auburn 25-yard line and could have attempted a 42-yard field goal. Kicker Colby Delahoussaye entered the game 17-of-18 for his career.
“I was given a signal from the sideline that we were going to attack,” Harris said. “We tried to hurry up and snap it. I could have thrown Travin a better pass.”
The late-half sequence was a troubling display to cap a nightmarish first half for LSU. Miles’ team trailed 31-7 at halftime.
Harris scrambled for 32 yards to set up his last-second heave to the end zone. The clock stopped for the first down with 10 seconds left.
Harris snapped the ball with 6 seconds on the clock. It hit zeros while the ball headed toward a double-covered Dural.
Auburn defensive back Nick Ruffin was ejected late in the first half after being penalized 15 yards for targeting LSU receiver Trey Quinn on a high pass from Harris over the middle.
Quinn, who leaped high and tried to make a one-handed catch, was coming down when Ruffin came up and put his left shoulder into Quinn’s neck just below his facemask. Quinn crumpled to the ground as Auburn safety Joshua Hosley put his hands to his head upon seeing the hit, which drew the flag.
Quinn did not appear to be injured. Referee Matt Moore reviewed the play and confirmed the call of targeting a defenseless receiver, which called for an automatic ejection.
No Thomas on the trip
Defensive tackle Quentin Thomas did not travel with the team to Auburn.
Thomas, a junior who started three of the first four games this season, injured his left arm in a loss at Mississippi State on Sept. 20 and was doubtful for the game at Auburn. Thomas is already playing with a torn biceps in his right arm.
True freshman Davon Godchaux started in Thomas’ place, the third start of the year for the Plaquemine native.
It’s unclear when Thomas will return to the lineup. Defensive tackle is somewhat of a weak point for the Tigers, but they got back Frank Herron. Herron, a redshirt freshman who has rarely played this season, dressed out. He missed last week’s game after suffering an off-the-field injury the week before.
Herron entered the game on Auburn’s fifth drive, believed to be the earliest he’s played in a game this season.
No ‘upset’ here
There was modest applause from Auburn fans when kicker Daniel Carlson made a first-quarter field goal to give his team an early 3-0 lead.
But that was nothing compared to the huge roar from Auburn and LSU fans moments later when the video board showed the final seconds of Ole Miss’ 23-17 upset of Alabama.
Lots of time for Beckwith
LSU middle linebackers Kendell Beckwith and D.J. Welter rotated every other series early in the game before Beckwith replaced the senior. Beckwith played every snap at middle linebacker in the second half.
Welter whiffed on a pass in the flats, and he was replaced mid-drive by Beckwith. He never saw the field again.
The two rotated each series in the win over New Mexico State last week. Miles said Beckwith would play more after Welter’s struggles in a loss to Mississippi State on Sept. 20.
“I’m hoping I can build off of it,” Beckwith said. “I’m getting more comfortable as I play.”
Bo Jackson, the former Heisman Trophy-winning running back at Auburn and star baseball player, was in attendance at Saturday’s game.
He was honored before the game to a raucous ovation from what appeared to be a sellout crowd at an orange-covered Jordan-Hare Stadium.
LSU running back Terrence Magee got his first start of the season Saturday. Kenny Hilliard had started each game at tailback. Hilliard fumbled in the win over New Mexico State and was benched for at least one quarter. Hilliard was the fourth running back in the game Saturday, following Magee, Darrel Williams and Leonard Fournette. … LSU sophomore Ethan Pocic started again at right guard. … Receiver Malachi Dupre got his second straight start. Dupre missed the first game of the season with an injury and has worked up the depth chart since.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.