Recap: Auburn vs. So Carolina
Auburn, AL (SportsNetwork.com) - Auburn put up touchdown after touchdown in the second half and then finally stopped South Carolina on fourth down.
When the Gamecocks got the ball back, there wasn't enough time to travel the length of the field again.
Nick Marshall ran for three touchdowns and threw for another as the fifth- ranked Tigers defeated South Carolina 42-35 on Saturday night.
Auburn scored touchdowns on six straight possessions at one point, with Marshall's go-ahead 5-yard TD sprint with 11:22 left providing the Tigers a 42-35 lead.
The Gamecocks converted their first five fourth-down opportunities -- including two on their ensuing drive -- before Dylan Thompson overthrew Shaq Roland in the end zone on a 4th-and-14 at the Auburn 19.
Four of those fourth-down conversions came in South Carolina's own territory.
"We knew we had to try and stay on the field. We almost did it, but we couldn't quite do it because we messed up. We messed up in the red zone a couple of times or else we had a chance," Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier said.
South Carolina then forced its first punt of the second half and regained possession at its own 15 with 1:08 to go and no timeouts. Jonathan Jones, though, intercepted his second pass on Thompson's Hail Mary heave in the end zone on the final play of the game to preserve the win and national title hopes for the Tigers.
"At the end, we found a way to keep them out of the end zone," Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said.
Cameron Artis-Payne ran for 167 of Auburn's 395 yards on the ground to go with a touchdown.
Marshall was 12-of-14 for 139 yards and a touchdown and added 89 yards rushing on 10 carries for the Tigers (6-1, 3-1 SEC), who bounced back from their lone loss of the season two weeks ago at Mississippi State.
Thompson completed 29-of-50 passes for 402 yards with a school-record five touchdowns to go with three interceptions for South Carolina (4-4, 2-4), which has dropped three of its last four games.
Ricardo Louis dashed down the left sideline for a 75-yard touchdown and a 35-28 Auburn cushion midway through the third quarter, just one snap after the Gamecocks' Pharoh Cooper burst through the middle of the Tigers secondary on a quick slant that turned into a 51-yard TD reception.
On the ensuing drive, Thompson hit Roland for a 12-yard completion on an out route to keep South Carolina a yard shy of the first-down marker on a 3rd- and-13. Cody Gibson committed a false start penalty to push it to a 4th-and-6 at the Gamecocks' 40, but Steve Spurrier elected to go for it anyway.
Thompson sprinted out to his right and hooked up with Cooper for nine yards to move the chains. Mike Davis then broke off a 23-yard run, Thompson found Roland for an 18-yard completion two plays later and then fired a 10-yard TD strike to Nick Jones in the back of the end zone to tie the game late in the third.
And Spurrier wasn't done gambling.
South Carolina recovered an onside kick to regain possession, and Davis plunged for three yards up the middle on a 4th-and-1 at the Auburn 23.
On 3rd-and-8 at the 18, however, Jonathan Jones made a diving interception on a pass floated in the back left corner of the end zone intended for Roland.
It didn't take long for Auburn to strike.
Marshall flipped a screen out to Quan Bray for a 20-yard reception and then fired a 28-yard completion to Corey Grant along the right sideline two plays later. Marshall's 9-yard TD run off the left side came a snap later.
Earlier, Roland's 32-yard TD catch on South Carolina's opening drive began the scoring, and the Gamecocks marched into Auburn territory on their next offensive series following a Tigers punt.
Cassanova McKinzy, though, picked off Thompson inside the 10 and Marshall flipped a 3-yard TD pass to Brandon Fulse to cap an 11-play, 92-yard sequence and knot the score late in the first.
The Gamecocks' first fourth-down make came on a 4th-and-2 at their own 33 early in the second quarter, when Davis took a swing pass and scampered 18 yards along the right sideline. Cooper hauled in a 16-yard TD reception before Auburn answered with Artis-Payne's 2-yard TD run for a 14-14 tie midway through the second.
Bray fumbled on a punt return and Davis took a swing pass in the left flat 27 yards for a score to put South Carolina back ahead, but Marshall answered with a 37-yard TD sprint to knot the game at 21-21 late in the first half.
Marshall's 4-yard TD run on Auburn's opening touch of the second half gave it a 28-21 advantage.Game Notes
Auburn has won 14 straight home games, tied with Florida State for the longest
active FBS streak ... The Tigers were 6-of-8 on third down, while the
Gamecocks finished 6-of-14 ... Auburn outgained South Carolina, 551-535 ...
Auburn moved to 310-5 when scoring at least 30 points.