Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott insinuated that No. 23 Auburn benefitted from some home cooking from SEC officials when a late review upheld a questionable Tigers’ reception which set up the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Trailing by five at home on Saturday, Auburn quarterback TJ Finley threw a 19-yard pass to John Samuel Shenker. The play was reviewed and a replay appeared to show the ball hit the turf. Instead, officials confirmed that it was a catch, setting up first-and-goal.
Three plays later, Finley scrambled and threw a 10-yard touchdown to Shedrick Jackson to take the lead with 45 seconds left.
Auburn held on to win 34-24.
Elliott, who is familiar with SEC officiating having been an assistant at South Carolina from 2010 to 2016, insinuated that Auburn benefitted from having SEC referees calling the game.
“They had a little bit of help on that review where the ball was incomplete,” Elliott said. “It should have been put back on the 30-yard line. But you know when you play in the SEC you gotta take the hits. And they gave us a real gut punch on that call. So we appreciate that.”
Despite the questionable call from officials, Elliott said he was proud of his team for the way it competed.
“It’s a disappointing feeling,” Elliott said. “Sports can rip you apart. That was a tough one to lose.”
Georgia State held the momentum for most of the game, taking a 24-12 lead into the fourth quarter.
Auburn was limited to 9-of-20 on third-down conversion attempts and rushed for only 166 yards. Quarterback Bo Nix was eventually benched in favor of Finley.
Finley’s pass to Jackson was Auburn’s only offensive touchdown of the game. The Tigers’ other points came from field goals and a blocked punt.
Said Elliott of his defense: “They’re the players of the game.”
“They controlled the line of scrimmage,” Elliott said. “They controlled the passing attack. What a great defensive performance.”
Of his entire team, Elliott said it “laid it on the line.
“It didn’t happen on that last drive,” he said. “I hurt for them because they put so much energy and effort into it. It’s a gut-wrenching thing.”