AUBURN, Ala. – No. 18 Auburn grabbed an early lead with a 17-play opening drive and Tank Bigsby scored a second-half touchdown but No. 2 Georgia won the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry 34-10 Saturday at sold-out Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"A lot of credit to Georgia," Auburn coach Bryan Harsin said. "We felt like we could go out there and play better football and put ourselves in a better position to win this game, and that didn't happen."
Bigbsy scored on a 6-yard-run, bouncing outside to his left when the middle was clogged on third-and-1 to make it 24-10 with 4:01 left in the third quarter, ending a string of 24 unanswered UGA points.
With his older brother, 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, watching from the student section in the south end zone, Caylin Newton's 31-yard reception was the key play on Auburn's 78-yard, six-play touchdown drive.
Georgia kicked a field goal in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter and added a 10-yard touchdown run by Zamir White with 7:11 remaining for the game's final score.
Auburn got off to a promising start on its first possession, converting two fourth downs while driving to the Bulldogs' 9-yard-line before Anders Carlson kicked a 24-yard field goal for a 3-0 Auburn lead.
"We came out hot," Auburn center Nick Brahms said. "We got ourselves in good situations. We executed, and other times in the game, we didn't execute. That's the bottom line."
Auburn's defense forced a three-and-out on UGA's first possession but the Bulldogs intercepted a deflected pass at Auburn's 26 on the Tigers' second possession to set up a game-tying field goal late in the first quarter.
Georgia scored back-to-back touchdowns early in the second quarter on White's 1-yard run and Stetson Bennett's 3-yard pass to Adonai Mitchell to give the Bulldogs a 17-3 lead.
Auburn drove to UGA's 3-yard line in the final minute of the first half but a fourth down pass fell incomplete, denying the Tigers an opportunity to pull within one score.
"We were just a play away from being down a touchdown at the half," Auburn quarterback Bo Nix said. "Against Georgia, you've got to score touchdowns in the red zone. Once you get down there, you've got to capitalize."
After the Bulldogs missed a field goal on their first drive of the third quarter, Auburn drove 34 yards to Georgia's 40-yard line before an incomplete pass on fourth down handed possession back to the Bulldogs.
Georgia scored on the next play with a 60-yard touchdown pass to lead 24-3 with 6:01 remaining in the third quarter.
Bigsby's touchdown pulled the Tigers within two scores but UGA outscored Auburn 10-0 in the final quarter.
Nix completed 21 of 38 passes for 217 yards. Playing against his former team, Demetris Robertson led Auburn with 59 receiving yards on four catches.
Zion Puckett led Auburn's defensive effort with a career-high 10 tackles. Bydarrius Knighten added a career-high nine stops and Chandler Wooten made eight. Eku Leota registered Auburn's sack, his team-leading fourth of the season.
Auburn (4-2, 1-1) plays at Arkansas next Saturday at 11 a.m. CT on either ESPN or CBS, with network assignments announced later Saturday evening.
"I don't think it's going to be hard to bounce back," Brahms said. "We've got the right character on this team, the right leaders and we're going to do the work throughout the week, what it takes to be successful."
"We'll find a way to play better," Harsin said. "That's the challenge this week. That disappointment should be fuel for the fire. I hope everybody responds like that."