Caleb King ran for two fourth-quarter touchdowns, Bacarri Rambo made a jarring tackle that likely saved the tying score and Georgia assured itself of bowl eligibility, beating Auburn 31-24 Saturday night for its fourth straight win in the Deep South’s oldest rivalry.
The Bulldogs (6-4, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) looked like they were headed for a blowout loss when Auburn (7-4, 3-4) scored on its first two possessions for a 14-0 lead. But Georgia rallied, taking the lead for good on King’s second TD run from 24 yards out with 6:52 remaining.
Auburn was driving to force overtime when Chris Todd lofted a pass over the middle for Mario Fannin, who was hauling it in at the goal line until Rambo flew out of nowhere to knock the ball away.
The redshirt freshman safety was briefly knocked out and had to be carried off the field on a cart. But he was able to talk to his teammates and move his arms and legs, have apparently suffered nothing more serious than a concussion.
After a 10-minute delay while Rambo was carefully strapped to a board and lifted onto the cart, Todd was sacked by Cornelius Washington and a penalty left Auburn with a fourth-and-18 from the 30. Todd went for Fannin in the end zone, but the pass was knocked away.
Georgia, which came into the game with an abysmal minus-16 turnover ratio, picked off Todd twice, including an interception by Reshad Jones that set up the winning score. The Bulldogs didn’t turn it over at all, the first time that’s happened all season. It’s also the first time they’ve had fewer turnovers in a game than their opponent.
Auburn marched down the field on its first two possessions. The home crowd showed its displeasure with an early smattering of boos, convinced that it was going to be another long night for Georgia’s beleaguered defense.
But the defense came around, getting more pressure on Todd and sacking him three times. King put Georgia ahead early in the fourth on an 11-yard TD run, then Auburn tied it at 24 on Demond Washington’s 99-yard return with the ensuing kickoff.
Todd was 20 of 28 for 238 yards, including a pair of touchdowns. But it wasn’t enough to prevent Georgia’s fourth straight win in the series for the first time since the 1940s.
Auburn’s fast start was highlighted by Todd’s 5-yard touchdown to his predecessor at quarterback, Kodi Burns, and a 31-yard scoring toss to Terrell Zachery. The Bulldogs stumbled through their first two offensive series and punted it away.
At that point, Auburn had 156 total yards, Georgia minus-2.
Game over? Hardly.
Early in the second quarter, Cox held up the Auburn secondary with a pump fake, and Israel Troupe blew by cornerback Neiko Thorpe to haul in a 50-yard touchdown pass.
It was Troupe’s first catch of the season, and the third-year sophomore’s first career TD.
The Bulldogs certainly needed some players to step up after being dealt a huge loss in the first half.,
A.J. Green, the SEC’s leading receiver, sprained his left shoulder when tackled hard along the sideline on a 12-yard reception. He didn’t return, watching the second half from the bench with his arm in a sling.