Trotter’s first start at Auburn a thriller

Published 5:13 pm Saturday, September 3, 2011

Former Briarwood Christian School quarterback Barrett Trotter fires a pass in his first career start at Auburn University on Sept. 3. Trotter led the Tigers to a 42-38 win over Utah State in the season opener for both teams. (Contributed/Todd Van Emst)

By KALA BOLTON / Staff Writer

AUBURN — It wasn’t pretty, but a win’s a win.

In his first career start with the Auburn University football team, former Briarwood Christian School quarterback Barrett Trotter led the Tigers to a nail-biting victory over Utah State University at Jordan-Hare Stadium Sept. 3.

The Tigers beat the Aggies 42-38.

“I was pleased with a very young team being able to fight through a lot of adversity and persevere through times that didn’t look very good, to be honest with you,” said Auburn head coach Gene Chizk. “But the kids, as they’ve done so many times here, they found a way to come back and win.”

Trotter completed 17-of-23 passes for a total of 261 yards and three touchdowns.

“Barrett does a great job,” said sophomore running back Michael Dyer. “He’s a great leader. He just did everything that a quarterback should have done tonight to make sure we won.”

The Tigers (1-0) have won 16 consecutive games and hold a 16-0-1 record against current Western Atlantic Conference members.

It was a rough win for the Tigers, as Utah State controlled the game until the final two minutes of play.

The Aggies started strong, scoring on a 43-yard touchdown run by junior Kerwynn Williams with 10:30 remaining in the first quarter.

Trotter quickly answered on his second pass-attempt of the game, firing a 56-yard touchdown pass to Blake on a third-and-five from the Tigers’ 44-yard-line, tying the game at seven with 8:59 left in the quarter.

Utah State reclaimed the lead on a three-yard touchdown run from freshman quarterback Chuckie Keeton to finish the first quarter, scoring again with a one-yard touchdown run by junior running back Robert Turbin with 7:58 remaining in the first half, extending the Aggies lead 21-7.

The Tigers fired back with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by freshman running back Tre Mason with 7:46 remaining in the second quarter, ending the half down by seven.

To start the second half, the Tigers drove from their own 35-yard-line, ending the an with an 11-yard touchdown run by Dyer to tie the game at 21 with 11:14 remaining in the third quarter.

Aggies’ sophomore Josh Thompson sank a 34-yard field goal with 4:52 remaining in the third quarter to take the lead 24-21.

With 1:57 remaining in the third quarter, junior wide receiver Travante Stallworth hauled in a 39-yard touchdown pass from Trotter, making it 28-24 and giving the Tigers their first lead of the game.

Utah State went up by ten after Keeton rushed for a seven-yard touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter paired with a one-yard touchdown run from Turbin as the Auburn faithful slowly began trickling out of Jordan-Hare.

They should have stuck around. Auburn quickly scored on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Trotter to junior Philip Lutzenkirchen, bringing Auburn within three of the Aggies.

Blake then recovered an onside kick to give the Tigers the ball at their own 44-yard-line with 2:02 left in the game.

Dyer scored the game-winner on a one-yard touchdown run with 30 seconds remaining.

Dyer led the team in rushing, totaling 57 yards on 14 attempts. Junior Onterio McCalebb had 44 yards on 9 attempts.

Blake led the team with three receptions for 95 yards, and junior Travante Stallworth totaled 93 yards on 4 catches.

Junior Jonathan Evans led the team with 14 tackles. Sophomore Jake Holland, a Pelham High School graduate who started his first game at middle linebacker for the Tigers, had eleven tackles.

Despite the win, the young Tigers, who lost 24 seniors this past season, have a number of improvements to make before their Southeastern Conference opener next week against the Mississippi State Bulldogs Sept. 10.

“I think obviously everybody that saw the game realizes that we did not play well as a football team,” Chizik said. “There’s no excuse for that. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Chizik said he is proud of the way Trotter played, specifically in the fourth quarter, but improvements need to be made.

“The game was on the line, we had to take two scores down there with one timeout on the board,” Chizik said. “He made some clutch throws, some guys made some clutch catches.

“Barrett, I thought, had his moments. He’s certainly going to see the film and know that he can play much better.”