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Auburn gets an ugly win before starting SEC play

Auburn defense, you da real MVP. Again.

NCAA Football: Mercer at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

The first quarter was almost over before Auburn scored its first touchdown of the game. It was a sloppy start for the Tigers, but they eventually (kind-of) pulled away with a 24-10 win over Mercer.

By the middle of the second quarter, the Auburn offense had fumbled the ball twice. Both were recovered by Mercer. Auburn’s defense bailed them out and Mercer got only three points off both turnovers. When Auburn was closing in on the goal line for their second touchdown, they fumbled the ball again and Mercer recovered again. Auburn’s defense stepped up again and forced Mercer to punt. Auburn had great field position and plenty of time to drive the distance for another touchdown, but the offense sputtered and the Tigers settled for a field goal.

At the end of the first half, Auburn had a 10-3 lead. Against Mercer.

When the second half started, it was Mercer’s ball. Of course the Auburn defense forced a punt, which was fumbled (again) on the return. Mercer got a short field and again, the Tigers defense held them. When Mercer faked a field goal, Auburn’s defense stopped them short of the first down.

With almost an entire half to play, Auburn had four turnovers. Then Jarrett Stidham threw an interception. Make that five turnovers.

After giving up a touchdown to Mercer, the score was 17-10 early in the fourth quarter. Auburn had a chance to score, but senior placekicker Daniel Carlson missed a short field goal. (He’s missed three through three games; last year he missed four the entire year.) With under five minutes left in the game, Kam Pettway scored his third touchdown on the day to give Auburn a 24-10 lead.

The score never changed and Auburn got the win against Mercer.

Jarrett Stidham played his best game of the season, going 32/37 for 364 yards. The downside is that he threw for zero touchdowns and one interception. There were several plays where he held on to the ball a little too long, but overall his performance was better than last week.

Kam Pettway also played his best game of the season, racking up 128 yards on 34 carries. He also scored all three of Auburn’s touchdowns. The downside is that no other Auburn running back had any carries at all. We knew Kerryon Johnson wouldn’t play, but where was Kam Martin? I’m not a football coach, but I don’t understand that.

Auburn’s defense looked good for the third straight week, giving up just 246 yards of total offense. They were put into a bad spot multiple times on multiple turnovers, but held Mercer to just 10 points on the day.

Overall it was an ugly game. A win is a win, but if Auburn is to compete for the SEC West, they have to get better in a hurry.