First, the flags came flying in. Then the boos rained down at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
LSU’s game-winning drive Saturday evening against Auburn was twice extended by a pass interference call against Gus Malzahn’s team — ultimately setting up Cole Tracy’s 41-yard field goal as time expired for a 22-21 win. The calls proved costly for Auburn, but players chose to not dwell on them after a heartbreaking loss in which the team squandered another double-digit lead against its SEC West foe.
“It’s very tough, man,” defensive lineman Marlon Davidson said. “Words can’t explain this loss. We played a hard-fought game. Couple bad calls here, couple bad calls there — just got to keep playing.”
The calls came against Jeremiah Dinson and Jamel Dean, the first on a would-be third-down stop and the second on a second-down pass that helped move LSU into range for Tracy’s game-winning field goal. They were two of four pass interference calls against Auburn’s defense, which has now been flagged for pass interference five times this season — though two of those were declined in the Week 1 win against Washington.
“Those are tough calls,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “Those are tough calls. We put ourselves in position. We put ourselves in position — it was tough, but you got to figure out a way to overcome it. That’s just the way it goes.”
Auburn couldn’t overcome the late pass interference calls, nor could it overcome a pair of offensive holding calls on consecutive fourth-quarter drives while trying to put the game away.
Center Kaleb Kim was twice called for holding, putting Auburn behind the sticks on two late-game drives as it clung to a 21-19 lead. Both drives sputtered after the penalties and led to punts by Arryn Siposs — and gave LSU life late.
“I think holding penalties or any penalty in the game is hurtful and is going to hurt the team,” H-back Chandler Cox said. “Obviously, it’s part of football, it’s going to happen. That’s on ourselves. That’s on the whole team. We have to do better with paying by the rules and not doing stupid things to get us penalties.”
After those two penalty-shortened drives, LSU got the ball back with 5:38 to play and 76 yards between it and the end zone.
Auburn’s defense stuffed LSU for a 1-yard loss on the first play of the drive and then forced Joe Burrow into an incomplete pass on second down. That set up third-and-11 from the LSU 23. Burrow dropped back and tried to find Jonathan Giles down the seam, but the play was broken up by Dinson.
Then came the flag. Dinson was called for pass interference, giving LSU a new lease on life and a first down at its own 38-yard line. After another third-down conversion by Burrow and then a fourth-and-7 conversion to get LSU to the Auburn 39-yard line, the LSU quarterback dropped back and tried to connect with Justin Jefferson down the left sideline.
Dean appeared to come through with a clean pass breakup, but a flag was thrown on the play. Pass interference. First down LSU at the Auburn 24-yard line. From there, it was just a matter of running down the clock and getting the ball in position for Tracy’s 41-yard try.
“It’s very frustrating, man,” Davidson said. “Especially for a D-lineman. You go out there and rush the quarterback, keep rushing the quarterback, you make plays, you do this, and you do that. Then, for something there to change the whole drive, get a first down like that, it hurts. That puts your defensive line in a bind; you get tired; you get overwhelmed, then it becomes into a fighting game. You know, who wants it badder? I guess they wanted it bad enough.”
Auburn finished the game with nine penalties for 111 yards, matching the team’s penalty yardage from Week 1 against Washington. LSU was called for nine penalties for 91 yards, and Dinson was sure to point out that the officials made calls both ways throughout the game.
Despite the propensity of pass interference calls early this season — Javaris Davis was responsible for the other two against LSU on Saturday — Dinson said the defense isn’t going to change its approach to press man coverage or its overall mentality, though he did vow there will be improvement moving forward.
“We’re going to continue what we’re doing,” Dinson said. “We’re going to look at film tomorrow and look at what we can learn from, and like I told you, we press you when you get off the bus, we press you until you get on the bus. We’re just going to stay the same, but we’re going to get better.”
Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.
Source : https://www.al.com/auburnfootball/index.ssf/2018/09/auburn_not_blaming_officials_f.html