AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Cayden Bridges recovered a fumble in the end zone to give Auburn a 17-14 overtime victory over Missouri in an SEC opener on Saturday.
Missouri (2-2) running back Nathaniel Peat dropped the football before a potential game-winning touchdown, and Bridges landed on it to seal the victory for Auburn (3-1).
“I think everybody in that locker room is exhausted, in a good way,” Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin said. “I told our players I’m proud of them. They did what they needed to do to win the football game.”
Auburn kicker Anders Carlson got a second chance and hit a 39-yard field goal to give the hosts the lead in overtime. Missouri jumped offsides on Carlson’s first try, from 44 yards out, which was missed.
“It’s just believing that crazy things will happen,” Carlson said. “That’s what happens in this stadium.”
Carlson’s field goal was the only scoring after halftime. Auburn scored both of its touchdowns in the first quarter, and Missouri tied it up with its own two touchdowns in the second quarter.
The teams combined for 12 consecutive punts in the second half before Auburn running back Tank Bigsby was stopped on fourth-and-1 from the Missouri 30-yard line with 1:37 remaining. Auburn was a perfect 3 for 3 on fourth-and-short before the late stop.
“I thought we had the first down,” Harsin said. ”… It was 6 inches, maybe, right? It felt like from what we had done and what we talked about that we could get that.”
Missouri kicker Harrison Mevis missed a 26-yard field goal attempt at the end of regulation. Missouri played for the final field goal following a 39-yard pass from Brady Cook to Dominic Lovett in the final minute.
“To lose that way — really twice — is just devastating for our locker room and our coaches,” Missouri head coach Eliah Drinkwitz said. “Just stinks. Hard to take.”
Missouri: The pressure will only increase on Drinkwitz, who is now 13-14 in his tenure with the Tigers. Missouri’s offense struggled after halftime, going three-and-out on five of its seven possessions.
“That was the team I knew I had going into the season,” Drinkwitz said. “The team I know I have going forward. I’ll go to bat with those guys anytime. … I’m not gonna flinch.”
Auburn: The wild finish will help Harsin, whose job security was in question after a 29-point home loss to Penn State last weekend. Still, Auburn finished with only 217 yards of total offense and averaged just 3.3 yards per snap.
“We struggled in some of our pass protection, no question…,” Harsin said of the offensive struggles. “It’s not going to go away until we fix some of our own problems.”
ENDING THE DROUGHT
Auburn entered Saturday as one of only four FBS teams with zero defensive takeaways this season. The hosts forced two turnovers against Missouri, and both were crucial to the victory.
The takeaway drought ended in the first quarter, when edge rusher Derick Hall intercepted a pass off a deflection from cornerback Nehemiah Pritchett.
Auburn scored one of its two touchdowns off of the interception, then sealed the win on Peat’s fumble on the final play.
OVER .500 IN OVERTIME
With the win, Auburn moved to an all-time winning record in overtime games at 9-8. The Tigers are 7-4 at home in overtime but just 2-6 in SEC overtime games.
Missouri returns home to face No. 1 Georgia on Saturday night. Auburn hosts LSU on Saturday night.
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