Clemson at Auburn

No. 2 Clemson, Watson survive 19-13 scare against Auburn

By JOHN ZENOR
AP Sports Writer
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AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Clemson's Dabo Swinney kept his kicker on the sideline and put the game in star quarterback Deshaun Watson's hands.

The decision worked in the second-ranked Tigers' 19-13 win over Auburn on Saturday night, but not without a few more anxious moments in an opener filled with them.

Swinney opted to go for it on fourth-and-4 from the 17 instead of kicking a field goal, and Wayne Gallman was stopped short by Tray Matthews - a failed call that could have backfired.

''We just didn't want to take a shot at the field goal right there,'' he said. ''We felt like as good as we had played defensively, with them having no timeouts, it was going to be very difficult for them to go score.''

Greg Huegel's extra-point attempt earlier in the quarter had hit the upright. Gallman had been knocked out of bounds on the previous play, stopping the clock to help leave Auburn more time.

''Unbelievable,'' Swinney said. ''And now we're fighting for our life there at the end.''

Watson passed for 248 yards, including 174 to Mike Williams in his return from a neck injury in last season's opener. Gallman carried 30 times for 123 yards.

Clemson dominated the stat sheet in the first half - with a 233-38 advantage in total yards - but led only 10-3 and both scores came after defensive penalties on third-down plays.

''That is one of the best teams in college football,'' Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. ''Holding those guys to 19 points was really unbelievable as far as the effort.''

Clemson struggled to put the opener away even though Auburn produced little offense for much of the game while swapping three quarterbacks in and out. Finally, Watson hit former walk-on receiver Hunter Renfrow in the back of the end zone on third and goal from the 16 with 9:59 left in the fourth quarter.

That was a lifetime in this game.

Ben Boulware's subsequent goal line interception only provided a temporary reprieve for a team that made the national championship game last season and is among the favorites to win it this time. Auburn finally got a touchdown with 3:22 left on a 9-yard direct snap run by Kerryon Johnson, and Clemson's failed fourth-down try deep in Auburn territory set up another shot with 40 seconds and 85 yards to go.

Sean White drove the offense to the Clemson 40, but two desperation heaves into the end zone fell incomplete, with the second getting batted around.

THE TAKEAWAY

CLEMSON: If Watson didn't exactly pick right up from his 478-yard bonanza in the national championship game against Alabama, he was still good enough. And Williams provides Clemson's offense with yet another threat.

AUBURN: Auburn's offensive problems continued from last season, with three quarterbacks attempting passes on the first six plays. The defense made some big stops and held Clemson to 6 of 17 on third downs. Daniel Carlson's 53-yard field goal was the Auburn-record sixth of 50-plus yards.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Barring a dominant win by No. 4 Florida State over No. 11 Mississippi on Monday night, Clemson seems likely to stay put right behind Alabama. No. 3 Oklahoma was upset by 15th-ranked Houston earlier in the day. The close score does make it a question mark, though.

QUOTABLE

Watson: ''We knew they were going to be good. We knew we weren't going to come in here and blow these guys out.''

UP NEXT

Auburn: hosts Arkansas State, where Malzahn was head coach in 2012, on Saturday.

Clemson: like Auburn, hosts a Sun Belt Conference team on Saturday when Troy visits.

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Online: AP college football website: http://collegefootball.ap.org

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
Recap Video

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Scoring Summary
AUBURNDaniel Carlson 53 yd FG
CLEMWayne Gallman 1 yd run (Greg Huegel kick)
CLEMGreg Huegel 30 yd FG
CLEMGreg Huegel 40 yd FG
AUBURNDaniel Carlson 32 yd FG
CLEMHunter Renfrow 16 yd pass from Deshaun Watson (missed kick)
AUBURNKerryon Johnson 9 yd run (Daniel Carlson kick)
 
Team Stats
 CLEMAUBURN
First Downs1917
Third Down Efficiency6-173-17
Fourth Down Efficiency1-33-5
Plays-Net Yards78-39971-262
Rushes-Yds44-15141-87
Passing Yds248175
Kick Return Yds1642
Punt Return Yds00
Passes19-34-115-30-2
Punts4-1665-222
Fumbles-Lost1-11-1
Penalties-Yds6-559-60
Time of Poss.30:2929:31
 
Individual Stats
RUSHING
CLEM: Wayne Gallman 30-123, Deshaun Watson 11-21, Adam Choice 3-7
AUBURN: Kerryon Johnson 23-94, Stanton Truitt 4-7, Chandler Cox 4-6, Sean White 4--2, Jeremy Johnson 6--18
PASSING
CLEM: Deshaun Watson 19-34-248-1
AUBURN: Sean White 10-21-140-1, Jeremy Johnson 4-6-38-1, Team 0-2-0-0, John Franklin III 1-1--3-0
RECEIVING
CLEM: Mike Williams 9-174, Artavis Scott 3-30, Hunter Renfrow 3-27, Ray-Ray McCloud 2-8, Wayne Gallman 1-8, Deon Cain 1-1
AUBURN: Marcus Davis 5-56, Will Hastings 3-29, Stanton Truitt 2-17, Ryan Davis 2-17, Kyle Davis 1-43, Tony Stevens 1-16, Kerryon Johnson 1--3
 
Standings
TeamStandingsConferenceOverall
Clemson1st Atlantic Coast Atlantic0-00-0
Auburn1st SEC West0-00-0

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