No. 9 Auburn scores late, beats No. 6 Washington 21-16

ATLANTA (AP) — Jatarvious Whitlow ran 10 yards for a touchdown with 6:15 remaining and the Auburn defense came through at the end, leading the No. 9 Tigers a 21-16 victory over No. 6 Washington that provided a big boost to their resume in the very first game of the season Saturday.

Trailing 16-15 after missing a two-point conversion on their opening drive of the game, Auburn drove 76 yards in 10 plays for the winning score. Jarrett Stidham kept the drive going early with a 12-yard pass to Chandler Cox on third-and-9.

Then, facing third-and-7 deep in Washington territory, Auburn handed off inside to Whitlow, who knocked over a Washington defender as he smashed into the end zone.

Washington drove to the Auburn 37 with plenty of time to pull off the comeback, but Myles Gaskin was thrown for a 3-yard loss and Jake Browning was stymied by a fierce pass rush on back-to-back plays to preserve the Tigers’ victory.

Stidham was 26 of 36 for 273 yards for Auburn, including a 10-yard touchdown pass to Sal Cannella, who made a leaping grab in the end zone before landing flat on his back.

Browning, looking to bounce back from a disappointing junior season, completed 18 of 32 for 296 yards. He was picked off once but connected with Quinten Pounds on a 13-yard touchdown in the final minute of the first half .

Peyton Henry put the Huskies ahead for the first time with his third field goal, a 30-yarder that clanked off the right upright but ricocheted through with 14:06 remaining.

Both teams squandered scoring chances.

Anders Carlson, taking over from older brother Daniel as Auburn’s kicker, connected on three field goals — including a 53-yarder — but also missed from 33 and 54 yards.

Washington was kicking itself after coming away from a first-and-goal with no points. On third down at the 3, Browning rolled right looking to make a pitch only to be smacked by Nick Poe. The ball squirted free and Auburn’s Darrell Williams fell on it at the 20.

Another chance was wasted when Henry shanked a 40-yard field goal attempt.

THE TAKEAWAY

Washington: Aaron Fuller addressed what was perhaps the biggest question mark on the Huskies roster, showing he had all the makings of a No. 1 receiver with seven catches for 135 yards. But Washington will have to overcome an early blemish on its record to get into the playoff mix.

Auburn: The Tigers picked up a win that should come in very handy if they’re in postseason contention late in the season. The victory really felt good for a team that closed last season with two straight losses at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, falling to Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship game and to Central Florida in the Peach Bowl.

UP NEXT

Washington: The Huskies return to Seattle to host FCS opponent North Dakota, which opened its season with a 35-7 victory over Mississippi Valley State.

Auburn: The Tigers also face an FCS school, Alabama State, in their home opener at Jordan-Hare Stadium. It will be the first game between the schools, even though they are only about 50 miles apart. Auburn is wrapping up its commitment to play every in-state FCS school over a six-year period, having already faced Alabama A&M, Jacksonville State and Samford.

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