The Auburn Tigers defeated the Washington State Cougars, 31-24, at Jordan-Hare Stadium in the season opener for both teams on Saturday night. Auburn was able to use big plays in the first half--and tough defense in the second--to hold on for the win late.
The Cougars got off to a fast start--driving down the field with ease after the opening kickoff to take a 7-0 lead, then forcing Auburn into a punt on its initial drive.
The game got wild from that point. Auburn got a 100-yard kickoff return from Tre Mason and a 75-yard touchdown run by Corey Grant to counter long go-ahead scoring drives from WSU. By halftime, Connor Halliday had thrown for 264 yards, but also threw two interceptions and the Cougs trailed 25-21.
After a shootout in the first half, things mellowed down in the second. WSU's passing offense struggled to get going, and Auburn could muster just two field goals. One of the field goals came after a third-down conversion that resulted from a questionable "catch" by Auburn.
That wasn't the only questionable call that resulted in points for the Tigers. Auburn scored a two-point conversion after its first touchdown that could have went either way. The 75-yard rushing score by Grant was reviewed--and it looked like he may have stepped out of bounds.
WSU had its chances to tie the game near the end. After a clutch 4th-down catch from Gabe Marks, Teondray Caldwell broke out for a 17-yard run that put the Cougs on the Auburn 8-yard line. Halliday threw an interception in the endzone while attempting to hit Rickey Galvin on the next play.
Halliday and his offense received second life when Deone recovered a fumble near midfield with just under three minutes left. After one first down, Halliday sailed a ball over Dominique Williams head on an apparent miscommunication to turn the ball over on downs.
From that point, Auburn was able to run out the clock and secure its first win of the season.