ATHENS, Ga. (AP) – Rodrigo Blankenship kicked two fourth-quarter field goals and Georgia’s defense shut down No. 8 Auburn in the second half to beat the Tigers 13-7 on Saturday.
The loss ends Auburn’s Southeastern Conference championship hopes and knocks the Tigers out of consideration for a spot in the playoff.
Auburn (7-3, 5-2 SEC, No. 9 CFP) had been in control of its hopes to win the SEC’s Western Division, with one conference game remaining at No. 1 Alabama. Instead, Alabama clinched the division with Auburn’s loss.
The Tigers couldn’t overcome the loss of star running back Kamryn Pettway, the nation’s No. 4 rusher who hurt his left leg on a long run in last week’s win over Vanderbilt. Pettway was with the team but not in uniform.
Auburn was held to 32 yards in the second half and 164 overall.
Georgia (6-4, 4-4) earned its biggest win under first-year coach Kirby Smart.
After Blankenship’s 21-yard field goal with 2:25 remaining, Auburn was stopped on four downs, triggering a celebration in the stands and on Georgia’s sideline.
Kerryon Johnson ran for 99 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown in the first quarter, as the fill-in starter for Johnson.
Sean White couldn’t find a passing game to complement Johnson’s running. White, returning from an undisclosed injury, completed only 6 of 20 passes for 27 yards with an interception.
Blankenship, the Georgia walk-on kicker who wears black-rimmed glasses under his helmet, barely cleared the cross bar on his 45-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter for a 10-7 lead. Blankenship was short on a 49-yard attempt about three minutes later.
Auburn had only 25 yards passing in the first half and opened the second half with three straight passing plays – two incompletions and a third-down pass intercepted by Maurice Smith and returned 34 yards for a tying touchdown.
Auburn: The Tigers likely will be headed for a sharp drop in the Top 25. The inability to compensate for Pettway’s injury revealed Auburn’s lack of offensive balance and inability to retain its spot as a championship or playoff contender.
Auburn: The Tigers will play their final home game against Alabama A&M next Saturday as they hope to gain momentum for their Nov. 26 game at Alabama.
Georgia: Georgia hosts Louisiana Lafayette next Saturday before closing its season with another home game against in-state rival Georgia Tech on Nov. 26.