It went black.
That’s what happens to Connor Culp’s vision when he hits a crucial field goal. It’s been that way his entire career, stretching back to his high school days in Arizona.
It goes black and then he runs off the field wildly, mobbed by teammates. That’s what happened Saturday on a historic day at Tiger Stadium, yet another chapter in this wild, crazy series between LSU and Auburn.
This game went black. It went improbable. It went unbelievable.
It went LSU 27, Auburn 23.
It went 20-point LSU comeback in a partially filled stadium.
So much happened in 10 years.
To get there, it needed DJ Chark’s electric fourth-quarter punt return for a touchdown and Russell Gage’s leaping TD grab to end the first half. It needed a defense to overcome a woeful first quarter, holding Auburn to 64 yards in the second half. It needed a Devin White-led unit to stuff Auburn’s once-unstoppable rushing attack and squash its previously efficient passing offense.
It needed a kicker to make a clutch, 42-yard field goal, two of them in fact, to give LSU its first lead with 2 minutes, 36 seconds left.
It needed it all. It had it all. It’s Auburn-LSU.
It went black.
“Everything goes black,” a smiling Culp said afterward. “You don’t really know what’s going on.”
Culp booted that field goal for a 24-23 lead and made another in the final minute for a bigger cushion. Chark rolled up 233 all-purpose yards, returning a punt 75 yards for a score, and putting up career-highs for catches (5) and receiving yards (150).
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Coordinator Dave Aranda’s defense pitched an improbable shutout in the final two quarters, holding AU running back Kerryon Johnson to 33 second-half yards after he posted 123 in the first half. White gobbled up a career-high with 15 tackles, and cornerback Donte Jackson broke up four passes — all in Auburn's final three drives — in this record-setting affair.
This was LSU's biggest comeback win against a Southeastern Conference team since a 21-point rally in 1977 against Ole Miss, and the school believes to be its biggest SEC comeback in Tiger Stadium history.
“That was awesome,” tight end Foster Moreau said afterward.
“I knew our guys would fight,” coach Ed Orgeron said. “We were resilient and kept on playing.”
They kept playing and landed in the record books with a program-rousing victory a week after a 17-16 road win at Florida.
This is the first win for an unranked LSU team over a top-10 squad since a 1995 victory over Auburn, and it comes just two weeks after losing at home to Sun Belt opponent Troy. Explaining it isn’t so easy.
Orgeron used two words: “Gut check. Gut check,” he repeated.
And now it’s on to Ole Miss (3-3, 1-2), a road game against a struggling program that Orgeron led just 10 years ago.
First, how did this one go black, as Culp said?
It started with defense and a key adjustment during halftime.
It didn’t take Gus Malzahn long to get to the heart of his team’s epic collapse Saturday afternoon.
Auburn rolled up 290 yards of offense in the first half, gouging the Tigers with Johnson lining up at running back or taking the direct snap in the Wildcat. Aranda made an adjustment on that Wildcat formation, bringing an extra safety close to the line of scrimmage.
His unit slowed Johnson to a 3.3-yard average in the final two quarters — the “difference” in the game, Orgeron said.
“We were missing the safety in the fit," White said. "It was hurting us. We had every gap filled except the safety gap. That’s where he was running. We got over there on (the white) board (at halftime), and coach Aranda fixed it.”
Then Chark started the fourth quarter with that 75-yard punt return for a touchdown to make it 23-21.
“We couldn’t hang on, and the punt return really broke our back,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “We were in pretty good shape until that point.”
Still limited by a knee injury, running back Derrius Guice hit his stride in the final frame, lowering the boom for a key first down and setting up the Tigers for Culp’s game-winning field goal on fourth-and-1.
Orgeron said he did not toy with attempting the fourth down.
“We needed the points,” he said.
He got them from a previously struggling gang. LSU kickers made 3 of their first 7 attempts; Culp has made his last three.
“To be completely honest, I had no idea what distance it was,” Culp said of the 42-yarder. “I went out there and did my thing. As soon as I hit the ball, knew I had made it.”
Jackson and the LSU defensive backs swallowed Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham in the second half. He went 2 for 13 in the final two quarters and 9 for 26 for the game.
“Play against DBU in Tiger Stadium,” Jackson said, “we’re going to show you what’s up.”
This wacky series got another wild finish.
Surely you know a few. The Earthquake Game in 1988, The Interception Game in 94, the 2007 duel capped by Demetrius Byrd’s game-winning catch with 1 second left. And then there’s last year — an 18-13 loss that got coach Les Miles fired.
This one fits right in there with the wildest — a comeback for the ages in a series that went black decades ago.
It's fair to say this was a stunner — especially after Auburn secured a three-score lead in …
“It’s a big victory for us,” Chark said. “A lot of people doubted us early in the year. We listened to what a lot of people said, watched a lot of people turn on us. At that point, we had to play for each other. We all fought together.”