In a game that featured 1,076 yards and 104 combined points, it was Juneau’s defense that had the last laugh.
The Huskies used a tackle for loss, sack and interception on consecutive plays in double overtime to set up the offense, which took care of the rest as Hayden Aube’s 8-yard touchdown run secured a wild 55-49 walk-off win Friday night over the Auburn Trojans of Seattle.
Juneau’s defense also made a critical stop on fourth down early in the fourth quarter, holding Auburn back by inches on a measurement that was so close the referee called for the chains to be brought on to the field.
The play summed up the night as the Huskies did just enough to beat Auburn, handing the Trojans their fourth loss in 19 games dating back to 2021.
Meanwhile, this was Juneau’s first win in five games this season. What a way to get off the schneid.
Aube finished with four TDs and 290 total yards at quarterback, throwing for 127 yards and two scores plus rushing for 163 yards and two scores.
Big-play magnet Jayden Johnson racked up 181 total yards and scored on a 71-yard run as well as pass plays of 29 and 73 yards.
The capital city combo provided most of the firepower for Juneau, which gained 530 yards on offense, including 403 on the ground.
Aube led the rushing attack with 163 yards on 33 carries while Garcia gained 98, Johnson 79 and Caleb Ziegenfuss 63.
Johnson added 102 receiving yards; of his 11 receptions this year, six have gone for TDs and he has averaged 36.8 yards per catch.
Juneau needed the offensive explosion to hold off an Auburn team that piled up 546 yards and rallied from an early 21-point deficit behind backup QB Jaylord Bielza.
The Auburn starter was pulled after he threw two interceptions in the first quarter to help the Huskies build a 21-0 lead to silence the home fans. They got it done by making a series of big plays in the span of two minutes.
The first one was Anthony Garcia’s interception followed on the next play by Ziegenfuss’ 61-yard TD run. After the ensuing kickoff, Sage Schultz made an interception to give Juneau picks on consecutive passes. Three plays later, Aube hit Johnson for a 29-yard scoring strike.
The Huskies weren’t finished. After forcing a punt on Auburn’s third possession, Juneau marched 91 yards on five plays capped by Johnson’s 73-yard TD reception to put the Alaskans up 21-0 with 6:13 left in the first quarter.
The Trojans didn’t know what hit them.
Johnson took a reverse 71 yards for another score on the first play of the second quarter as Juneau’s lead swelled to 27-8.
Auburn’s offense eventually got going later in the first half but couldn’t keep up with the Huskies, who carried a 34-20 lead into halftime.
Juneau’s final TD of the first half came on the strength of Aube, who was responsible for 69 of the 73 yards as he produced a 36-yard kickoff return, drew Auburn offsides with a hard count and added 28 rushing yards on six carries.
The dreamy start nearly turned into a nightmare, however, as Juneau fumbled on the first play of the third quarter and lost three fumbles in the second half, including two inside its own 5-yard line.
Bielza orchestrated five straight Auburn scoring drives in the second half and gave the Trojans their first lead at 36-34 after he completed a pass for a 2-point conversion with 4:52 remaining in the third quarter.
Both teams exchanged TDs at the end of the quarter with Juneau scoring on Garcia’s 52-yard run and Auburn answering with a 4-yard TD run to even things up at 42. Juneau stopped a 2-point conversion rushing attempt to keep the score tied.
After seeing a combined 84 points put up in the first three quarters, both defenses stood tall in a scoreless fourth.
At the 5-minute mark of the fourth quarter, Auburn went for it on 4th-and-5 from its own 38 but was held back by the Huskies – barely, coming up a few inches short. It was so close the ref brought out the chains to measure in a tense moment that had everybody’s attention.
When the ruling confirmed Auburn was short, the Juneau players ran off the field in celebration.
The Huskies had a shot to win in regulation but fumbled the ball at the 4-yard line with 53 seconds left in regulation.
In the Kansas-style OT, Juneau got the ball first and punched it in on Garcia’s 1-yard run on 4th-and-goal. After seeing his team stopped twice from inside the 2, Juneau coach Rich Sjoroos called a timeout to set up the play. Dawson Menz tacked on the point after, one of five he connected on.
The Trojans (1-1) charged back with a 19-yard run to pull within 49-48. They had gone for two after every TD Friday so the game figured to come down to one play from the 3-yard line.
Adding to the drama of the moment was a short delay due to a problem with the stadium’s lights, which flickered like the strobe lights you see at a dance club. Every Auburn TD triggered a quick lights show that had previously lasted only a few seconds, but on this occasion the party kept going.
Once the game resumed, the atmosphere changed after Auburn was whistled for a false start, a 5-yard penalty that moved the ball back. That forced the Trojans to kick it rather than going for two from the 8. A successful kick forced double OT.
Auburn got the ball first and was met by a wall, losing 2 yards on first down, losing 5 yards on second down and throwing an interception on third down after Johnson stepped in front of the intended receiver.
Five plays later, Aube scampered in from 8 yards for a walk-off TD as the Juneau players celebrated with a dog pile in the end zone.
Juneau 21 13 8 0 7 6 – 55
Auburn 8 12 22 0 7 0 – 49
Juneau – Ziegenfuss 61 run (Menz kick)
Juneau – Johnson 29 pass from Aube (Menz kick)
Juneau – Johnson 73 pass from Aube (Menz kick)
Auburn – Titialii 5 run (Bielza run)
Juneau – Johnson 71 run (kick missed)
Auburn – Bielza 1 run (run failed)
Juneau – Aube 2 run (Menz kick)
Auburn – Titialii 69 pass from Bielza (run failed)
Auburn – Conlan 2 run (Conlan run)
Auburn – Titialii 1 run (Whitehall-Gilkes pass from Bielza)
Juneau – Garcia 52 run (Aube run)
Auburn – Lara 4 run (run failed)
Juneau – Garcia 1 run (Menz kick)
Auburn – Titialii 19 run (Lai kick)
Juneau – Aube 8 run