How embattled Auburn football put it all together to give Cadillac Williams a win over Texas A&M
AUBURN — The energy in Jordan-Hare Stadium for Auburn football's game against Texas A&M on Saturday wasn't common for a meeting between two teams with records well below .500.
The stadium was sold out, due in large part to it being Auburn's (4-6, 2-5 SEC) first home game with interim head coach Carnell "Cadillac" Williams at the helm. Tigers fans showed up for their beloved former player and current leader, and Williams repaid them with a 13-10 win over Texas A&M (3-7, 1-6).
The Aggies, just like the Tigers, came into the game looking to avoid a sixth straight loss. Texas A&M hadn't dropped six consecutive games since 1972, and after winning, Auburn still hasn't done it since 1950.
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Defense balls out
Auburn's defense allowed three points until A&M's lone touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter, holding the Aggies to 215 total yards and just 3.6 yards per play. Texas A&M drove into Auburn territory three times in the first half, but the closest it got was to the 39-yard line, and even that possession ended in a punt.
Colby Wooden had the best game defensively, highlighted by a strip-sack in the game's final minutes to give Auburn an opportunity to go up by two scores. Owen Pappoe, who also had a sack, broke up a pass that would've been a pick-six had he been able to get two hands on the ball and bring it in.
Playing opposite an offense that only mustered 13 points makes the performance from the defensive side even more impressive, given the small margin of error it had.
Bigsby, Hunter gash the Aggies
The Tigers left Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday with 11 rushes of 10 or more yards, and nine of those came via efforts from running backs Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter.
Bigsby finished with 121 yards, and his most successful play of the game was a 39-yard rush early in the first quarter that featured Williams running stride for stride with him down the sideline, giving the Auburn faithful flashbacks to the early 2000s. Hunter also paced Auburn in rushing yards, finishing tied with Bigsby at 121. He had three consecutive plays in the second quarter that went for 16, 18 and 14 yards.
The offense couldn't turn the success on the ground into many points, as drives stalled out once in plus territory, but the production allowed Auburn to control the time of possession and give its defense some well-earned rest.
The Auburn faithful mattered
It's no secret this season hasn't gone as planned for the Tigers. They have a negative record ten games into the schedule and fired their head coach midseason, but none of that mattered to Auburn fans Saturday night.
The only thing that mattered was supporting Williams and beating the Aggies, and they did their part in making sure the latter happened. The first play of the game was a false start, and the Texas A&M offense was undoubtedly affected by the raucous crowd, finishing the game with eight penalties for 66 yards.
The Tigers need a win next week against Western Kentucky at home and a victory in Tuscaloosa at the Iron Bowl to become bowl eligible. The second task is a lot tougher than the first, but the only thing that should be on Auburn's fans' minds after winning Saturday is rolling Toomer's Corner.
Richard Silva is the Auburn beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @rich_silva18.