Auburn Tigers tight end C.J. Uzomah (81) and head coach Gus Malzahn celebrate after the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Jordan Hare Stadium. The Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 24-20. (Photo: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports)
AUBURN, Ala. — Nick Marshall found North Gwinnett grad C.J. Uzomah for the winning 11-yard touchdown with 10 seconds left as Auburn stunned visiting Mississippi State in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
Marshall hooked up with the 6-foot-4 Uzomah in the back right corner of the end zone to cap an impressive 12-play, 88-yard drive in the final two minutes. Marshall finished 23 of 34 for 339 yards and two touchdowns to help Auburn (3-0, 1-0 SEC) snap a 10-game conference losing streak.
"It was unbelievable," Uzomah said of the game-winning catch. "I caught the ball, looked up and saw everyone on their feet and I could not hear one thing. Everyone was jumping on me, but I could not hear one thing. All I could hear was the 80,000 fans roaring.”
Starting from their own 12 with 1:56 remaining, the Tigers started the decisive march with Marshall's 6-yard run followed by five straight completed passes by the junior college transfer. The first three completions on the drive went to Marcus Davis, while the other big plays were a 17-yard pass to Jaylon Denson and an 11-yard run by Marshall that came two plays before the winning TD pass.
Auburn initially took an 11-0 first-quarter lead on a play where Marshall dropped the snap, picked up the ball, scrambled to his left and found a wide-open Quan Bray for a 76-yard touchdown, followed by the ensuing two-point conversion. However, Mississippi State (1-2, 0-1 SEC) closed within 14-13 at halftime on rushing touchdowns by Jameon Lewis and Dak Prescott.
The Bulldogs took the lead early in the third quarter as Prescott ran for a 2-yard TD. Cody Parkey's 47-yard field goal drew Auburn within 20-17 a few minutes later, but there was no scoring thereafter - until the final seconds.