Posted: Saturday, September 22nd 2012 at 11:34pm
Defense helps avert upset for No. 2 LSU
By The Associated Press
LSU running back Spencer Ware (11) pulls away from Auburn defensive back Jermaine Whitehead (9) in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
AUBURN, ALABAMA -- Sam Montgomery and the LSU defense delivered a first-quarter safety and shut out Auburn in the second half to give the second-ranked Tigers a 12-10 victory Saturday night.
Auburn led 10-9 at halftime but managed only 183 yards.
A fumbled punt return by Auburn's Quan Bray set up Drew Alleman's 30-yard field goal late in the third quarter that gave LSU (4-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) a 12-10 lead. Alleman missed a 34-yarder with 39 seconds remaining.
Auburn (1-3, 0-2 SEC) managed only one first down on its final possession. Kiehl Frazier's final pass was intercepted by Tharold Simon as the game ended.
The win gave LSU its sixth straight 4-0 start and extended its streak of regular-season wins to 17, the longest in the nation.
LSU's Zach Mettenberger had two first-half fumbles but threw a 33-yard pass to running back Spencer Ware on a key third-down late in the game.
Montgomery tackled Tre Mason in the end zone midway through the first quarter and Michael Ford's 1-yard TD run four minutes later made it 9-0 LSU.
Onterrio McCalebb scored Auburn's touchdown on 4-yard run on the last play of the first quarter to make it 9-7 and from there it was nothing but field goals and defense.
McCalebb was held to 24 yards on 11 carries.
LSU outscored its first three opponents 145-31, but its conference opener was a much bigger challenge. LSU was favored by almost three touchdowns but managed only 182 yards rushing - almost 100 yards below its SEC-leading average.
Ware, who was only fifth on the team with 38 yards rushing through three games, led LSU with 16 carries for 90 yards.
LSU held the ball for 11 plays on its opening drive, moving to the Auburn 2 before Auburn defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker recovered Mettenberger's fumbled snap. LSU center P.J. Lonergan left with a leg injury earlier in the series, and the fumble came on the snap from backup center Elliott Porter.
Lonergan returned on LSU's next possession.
Auburn had a false-start penalty on its first play after the turnover, pushing the Tigers back to their 1, setting up Montgomery's tackle of Mason for the safety.
LSU appeared to be in total control when Ford's scoring run capped a 59-yard drive.
Mettenberger's second lost fumble shifted the momentum to Auburn. Mettenberger fumbled when hit by Corey Lemonier. Angelo Blackson recovered for Auburn at the LSU 26. Mason's 26-yard run set up McCalebb's 4-yard touchdown run.
Cody Parkey's 40-yard field goal late in the half gave Auburn a 10-9 halftime lead.
Mettenberger completed 15 of 26 passes for 169 yards.
Frazier completed 13 of 22 passes for 97 yards with two interceptions.
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