Auburn kicker Cody Parkey celebrates with holder Ryan White after kicking the winning field goal to defeat Louisiana-Monroe 31-28 in overtime Saturday.
AUBURN, Ala. — The Auburn Tigers turned the game over to kicker Cody Parkey and avoided becoming another Southeastern Conference victim for Louisiana-Monroe.
Parkey hit a 35-yard field goal in overtime on Saturday to secure the Tigers’ first win, 31-28 over the Warhawks.
Auburn (1-2) stopped Kolton Browning and the Warhawks to start overtime, and Justin Manton’s 37-yard field goal attempt was deflected by Angelo Blackson. Then Tre Mason rushed for 10 yards, and Kiehl Frazier downed the ball on the next play to set up Parkey’s winning kick.
“We knew we couldn’t leave here with a loss,” Parkey said. “It was big for us to get the win, no matter how it looked.”
The Warhawks (1-1) rallied from 28-7 down to shock Arkansas in overtime a week ago, a rare victory against the SEC. This one wouldn’t have been that much of a shocker against struggling Auburn, which led 28-14 midway through the fourth quarter.
“I think we just let our guard down a little,” Frazier said. “After that first drive we scored on, a lot of guys felt like we had put the game away. We kind of played like we felt like that. We’ve just got to keep our foot on the gas pedal.”
Onterio McCalebb rushed for 128 yards and a 27-yard touchdown on 11 carries for the Tigers. Frazier threw one touchdown pass and caught another, both 33 yards.
The Warhawks are 4-35 against teams from the SEC but are hardly an automatic victory these days.
“They keep battling back,” Louisiana-Monroe coach Todd Berry said. “There’s a lot of things we have to overcome when we go on the road and play against some very good athletes and great coaches.
“It’s all the way on me. I didn’t manage this game as well as I needed to. This is my fault. I wish I could have it over, for the kids’ sake.”
Most Auburn fans didn’t stick around long to celebrate the escape against a team (0-9) and a league (0-19) that has never beaten the Tigers, who host No. 3 LSU next week.
Browning threw two incompletions in overtime, overthrowing Je’Ron Hamm in the end zone on third down as he was hit by Dee Ford.
He went 28-of-46 passing for 237 yards and three touchdowns, two in the final 6:15. He also ran 14 times for 58 yards even if he couldn’t duplicate his 412-yard passing performance against the Razorbacks.
Berry second-guessed his decision to attempt the field goal after his team had converted 9-of-11 fourth down plays the past two games.
“My gut said go, and my 30 years of coaching said that ain’t very smart,” he said. “I wish I had trusted my gut a little bit more. All those coaching (axioms), you kind of stay away from sometimes because they can get you in trouble.”
Frazier rebounded from a five-turnover game against Mississippi State. He completed 10-of-18 passes for 130 yards and a 33-yard touchdown to Sammie Coates. Frazier also caught a 33-yard scoring pass after lateralling to Quan Bray and then sprinting down the sideline after the receiver threw it back across the field to him.
Frazier threw only six passes in the second half, completing one 16-yarder.
He couldn’t get Auburn to midfield on its final possession of the fourth.
“They fought together and hung together, and it wasn’t always pretty, but we beat a good football team,” Tigers coach Gene Chizik said. “It’s something to build on.”
The Warhawks got two first downs on penalties on their final scoring drive of the fourth quarter, the first when Corey Lemonier — who earlier blocked a field goal — jumped offsides on fourth-and-2. Then Browning fired downfield to Brent Leonard, and Demetruce McNeal was flagged for interference to move the ball to Auburn’s 37.
He hit Colby Harper for a 6-yard touchdown, and Manton’s extra point tied it.
Mitch Lane’s interception of Frazier’s worst pass and decision of the day set up Browning’s 4-yard touchdown to a diving Harley Scioneaux, his second of the day, five minutes earlier. Browning had hit Hamm for a 14-yard gain on fourth-and-7 two plays earlier.
Auburn scored two touchdowns in the final 2:18 of the first half — Frazier’s pass and catch — to take a 21-14 lead and bring the crowd back into it.
On his touchdown pass, Frazier started to roll left, spun out of a potential sack and threw the ball into a crowd of players from both teams. It went to Coates in the back of the end zone on the final play of the half.
“Sammy before the play said if we run it, just throw it up, so I just threw it up and he made a great play,” Frazier said.
The momentum carried over with Mason’s 1-yard touchdown to cap the opening drive of the second half. McCalebb set it up with a 29-yard run after stumbling and shedding a couple of would-be tacklers near the line.
Auburn threatened to put the game away after McCalebb raced 43 yards late in the third. Then Mike Blakely fumbled at the 1 after a 19-yard run.