Kicks FG as time expires for LSU win
AUBURN, Ala. — It must have been quite a celebration in Camarillo, California.
They were likely partying it up in the coaches office at tiny Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, too.
But at Auburn’s raucous Jordan-Hare Stadium, it was deafly silent — just the way Cole Tracy, LSU’s transfer kicker from the Left Coast by way of the Boston area, always imagined it when he was kicking field goals in front of 1,200 or so fans last year.
Tracy, Division II’s gift to LSU football, rammed home a no-doubt 42-yard field goal as time expired to give the No. 12 Tigers a 22-21 victory over No. 7 Auburn to complete an unlikely comeback from an 11-point deficit in front of a stunned crowd.
“I’m sure they are,” Tracy said of the reaction of his former addresses as “Calling Baton Rouge” blared next door to his post-game interview in the Tigers ecstatic locker room.
But he’s a full-blown Tiger now, having etched his name into the lore of a nutty series while perhaps validating fellow transfer quarterback Joe Burrow in the process.
Burrow hasn’t completed half of his passes in a game yet — 15 of 34 for 24 yards on this day — but he threaded a tight needle for a 71-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Dillon midway through the fourth quarter that gave the Tigers a chance, then directed the 52-yard winning field goal drive, highlighted by a 9-yard completion to Stephen Sullivan on a fourth-and-7.
“Joe is cool as a cucumber,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said. “He’s not going to falter under pressure. He’s going to make the right decisions.
“We always thought we were going to win the ballgame.”
They probably weren’t in the majority of the mostly orange-clad 86,787 in the stadium.
There have been ups and downs, but LSU (3-0, 1-0 SEC) has beaten two top-10 teams in the season’s first three weeks. Auburn, a 10-point favorite, fell to 2-1, 0-1.
LSU took advantage of Grant Delpit’s interception on the game’s second play and jumped to a 10-0 lead. But the Tigers trailed 14-10 at halftime and 21-10 after a misfired pass on a fake punt set up another Auburn touchdown to open the second half.
“Things are going to happen back and forth,” Orgeron said. “You just got to keep on playing … We believed in each other. We didn’t panic.”
So LSU’s defense was rock solid for the remainder, and the Tigers’ offense came alive in the final quarter.
“I could feel that the game was potentially leading this way,” Tracy said of ending up as the game’s focal point. “Our plan was to keep our poise.”
He’d done it before, but never in anything resembling the atmosphere of one of the Southeastern Conference’s wildest venues.
He said the goal posts were the same size as at Assumption, where the home stadium seats 1,200 fans.
But any other semblance was strictly coincidental — and he’d never heard that many howling fans suddenly go silent.
“It was awesome,” he said. “It’s a feeling that you can’t really describe. I’m glad I got a good hit on it, and I just started running.”
Burrow couldn’t watch from the sideline after turning things over to Tracy.
“I had my hands over my head, but, I mean, I trusted Cole,” he said. “I just didn’t want to watch at that time. He has been great for us all year.”
None of it would have been possible without Burrow’s clutch play. Orgeron had said this week that the Ohio State transfer needed a big win in a big game to establish himself at LSU.
“He’s a competitor,” Orgeron said of Burrow. “Things weren’t always good, but he competed his butt off. I thought he played well. He didn’t play great.”
“I didn’t play great,” Burrow echoed. “Especially in the first half, I missed some throws that I usually make. I was upset with myself at halftime. We could have had a two-score lead. But my teammates trusted me and the second half we got going a little bit.”
It all turned around seemingly out of nowhere.
LSU had been throwing deep all day and it paid off when Burrow connected with Dillon on a well-covered deep crossing pattern for a 71-yard touchdown pass. The Tigers missed the extra point but were within 21-19.
“I just tried to get it over that linebacker and Derrick Dillon made a great play for me,” Burrow said.
“Huge,” he added. “Good games are about momentum like that. We started off strong, stalled at the end of the half … and we didn’t get it going again until the fourth quarter.”
The winning drive began with 5:38 to play and needed two fourth-down conversions and a pair of pass interference calls to get into Tracy’s range.
Burrow connected with a perfect pass to Stephen Sullivan on the first gamble, and Sullivan made a stretching catch near the sideline.
“I saw that safety come down in the box and I knew had one-on-one coverage,” Burrow said. “(Sullivan’s) 6-6 and pretty easy to throw to. I just put it right in his face and he made the play.”
LSU 22 | Auburn 21