The Auburn High Tigers may have taken more risks and the game may have been more heart-pounding than most would have liked, but there is no denying that the Tigers got their biggest win of the season by taking down the Central-Phenix City 29-28 last Friday night.
The win propels Auburn to 6-0 on the season and places them firmly in the driver’s seat to win the region championship.
Central started the game hot, scoring in the opening minute on a 42-yard run to put the Red Devils up 7-0. Auburn responded midway through the game with a Josh Owsley field goal to close the gap to 7-3. Central would score two more touchdowns, one on a pass from Caleb Nix to McKay, and another on a Trey Miles run.
The Red Devils led 21-3 at the end of the first quarter.
While the first quarter was all Central, the second would be all Auburn.
The Tigers opened up the first minute of the quarter by scoring on the legs of Amaury Hutchinson to close the Red Devils lead. Later in the quarter, quarterback Mathew Caldwell would pass to Bryson Clague for the touchdown, with the PAT being missed. Caldwell would pass for another touchdown, this one a 20-yard toss to Quay Ross. Auburn held Central’s offense scoreless through the entire quarter to hold the 23-21 lead going into the half.
The second half saw both of the defenses buckle down as the electric offenses from the first half all but disappeared. The only score of the third quarter was a McKay run for Central to give the Red Devils the crucial 28-23 lead.
The fourth quarter was another defensive battle, with the Tigers needing to touchdown to have a chance to win. The opportunity presented itself as the Red Devils starting punter and wide receiver Jackson Meeks was out with an injury, giving Auburn consistently good field position.
The Tigers were finally able to punch it in midway through the fourth quarter to put them up 29-28.
Neither defense allowed any more points to be scored and the Auburn Tigers took home their first win over Central during head coach Adam Winegarden's tenure.
“It took us all 48 minutes to win the game,” said Winegarden. “It was a tough game and great team win. As an entire team they played well. Matthew Rhodes, the punter, helped keep them pinned that and helped the defense out tremendously.”
While the win over rival Central was celebrated, the attention of the team has turned to Georgia's Riverdale.
Neither team has played out-of-state and Riverdale has played three fewer games. The two teams have not faced off before.
The Tigers come into the game undefeated with wins over Park Crossing, Opelika, Prattville, Dothan High, Jeff Davis, Central Phenix City, and a forfeit win over Bob Jones. The game against Riverdale will be the final non-region opponent of the season.
With Smiths Station and Enterprise being the only two remaining opponents, the Tigers are in control of their own destiny as region champions.
"Sometimes it’s a tough team emotionally to move on from a big win like that and play a team you don’t know, but our guys are tough and they will respond,” said Winegarden.
Auburn will host Riverdale in Duck Samford Stadium, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.