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September 17, 2011In 2010, Auburn overcame a two-touchdown deficit to beat Clemson in overtime. A year later, the roles were reversed.
After Auburn jumped out to a 21-7 second-quarter lead, Clemson outscored the SEC Tigers 31-3 the final 2.5 quarters to end the nation's longest winning streak at 17 games with a 38-24 win Saturday in Clemson. Auburn had not lost since its final regular season game in 2009.
"We didn't play well. That's the bottom line," said Auburn coach Gene Chizik. "They outplayed us and out executed us."
Clemson's offense ran 92 plays and had 624 total yards against Auburn, an average of nearly seven yards per play. Quarterback Tajh Boyd completed 30-of-42 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns.
The Tigers rushed for 238 yards led by D.J. Howard's 86 on nine carries. Howard, from Lincoln, Ala., signed with Clemson in 2010, switching his commitment from Auburn to Clemson on Signing Day.
Clemson's offense put up big rushing and passing numbers against Auburn's defense, but the most impressive stat was on third-down plays. Clemson converted 14-of-18 third-downs including a stretch of 10 straight. Three of the Tigers five touchdowns came on third downs, two third-and-six plays and a third-and-nine play.
"They did a great job converting, and we did a poor job stopping them," Chizik said. "The third downs haunted us."
The success Clemson had Saturday came after Auburn forced three-and-outs on its first two possessions and held the Tigers scoreless in the first quarter. Running back Michael Dyer and receiver Emory Blake got Auburn its early lead. Dyer scored on a 52-yard run and Blake had a 36-yard touchdown catch.
But Clemson didn't take long to get on the board in the second as Boyd hit DeAndre Hopkins from four yards out on the quarter's first play. The score cut Auburn's lead to 14-7.
Dyer, who finished the day with 151 yards rushing on 16 carries and two touchdowns, scored from one yard out early in the second quarter to push the Tigers lead back to 14 points at 21-7.
The rest of the day would belong to Clemson.
Boyd connected with Dwayne Allen from six yards out on Clemson's ensuing possession and running back Andre Ellington added a 2-yard touchdown run before halftime to tie the game at 21-21.
Clemson's first possession of the second half resulted in its first lead of the game when Boyd connected with freshman Sammy Watkins for a 65-yard catch and run. Auburn's Cody Parkey kicked a 38-yard field goal to trim Clemson's lead to 28-24, but that would be as close as Auburn would get.
On Clemson's next possession, it drove 80 yards on 12 plays and ended when Boyd threw his fourth touchdown of the day, a 19-yard score to Watkins. Auburn had several missed tackles during the drive and Clemson took advantage of it by converting three third-downs including the touchdown, which was a third-and-nine play.
Clemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro ended the scoring with a 38-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter.
Auburn quarterback Barrett Trotter made his first college start away from home. The junior completed just 12-of-25 passes for 198 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
"This is kind of a great learning experience for our guys," Chizik said. "This is a tough away venue."
The loss drops Auburn to 2-1 overall on the season. The Tigers will host Florida Atlantic next week before traveling back to South Carolina to play the Gamecocks on Oct. 1.