Senior Carlos Rogers played like a star at cornerback, senior tailback Carnell Williams led the charge on offense and special teams with 198 all-purpose yards plus one TD and senior tailback Ronnie Brown caught seven passes for 88 yards and one TD and rushed for 52 more as the Tigers improved to 10-0 and made another statement that they are deserving of competing for the BCS national championship. Rogers ended Georgia QB David Greene’s streak of no interceptions at 214 and led the Tigers in tackles with five solos and three assists with two for losses.
Playing their final game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in one of the most important games ever at the site, Rogers, Brown and the Cadillac had plenty of senior help to lead them to a dominating victory over the fifth-ranked Bulldogs.
Senior QB Jason Campbell hit 18-22 passes for 189 yards and one touchdown and did a masterful job of running the offense, according to his position coach and offensive coordinator, Al Borges.
Senior center Jeremy Ingle gave a gut-check performance with a high ankle sprain and went the distance with lots of pain after re-tweaking the injury in the first half. He contributed to an Auburn offensive line that controlled the action much of the game.
Senior strong safety Junior Rosegreen added four tackles and knocked Georgia receiver Reggie Brown into the twilight zone forcing a fumble that Will Herring recovered while breaking the Georgia star’s facemask.
Another senior, defensive end Bret Eddins, helped the Tigers nearly pull off a shutout as the AU defensive front dominated a highly-touted UGA offense much of the contest. He had four tackles.
Georgia coach Mark Richt was impressed with what he saw as he suffered just the second road loss in his UGA tenure to go with 15 wins. “Congratulations to Auburn,” he said.
“When you get beat like that, the only thing you can say is that you got whooped. We could never gain any momentum and if a beating like that is going to happen at least it is against the number three team in the country. We were out-executed and out-coached.
“Auburn has done well all year and nobody has really challenged them. I was hoping that we could do that. The victory was a tribute to their team coaches.”
Courtney Taylor hugs Ronnie Brown after the senior tailback scored the Tigers' final touchdown.
All that is left between the Tigers and an unbeaten regular season is a road game next week against arch-rival Alabama. However, Auburn leaped the biggest hurdle on its schedule in its quest to get to the Orange Bowl. With the Tigers ranked at number three behind Southern Cal and Oklahoma, AU players and coaches are hoping their dominating victory over the Bulldogs will jump the Tigers up in the BCS ranking to at least number two.
Auburn’s Tommy Tuberville said he hopes voters in the AP and coaches polls will give strong consideration for voting the Tigers higher this coming week. “I’d hate to play us,” the beaming coach said. “I know people will be fair when they vote. This is a special team. They lay it on the line every week. They keep their focus and are consistent, and, they are dang fun to watch.”
While Tuberville wouldn’t come out and say the Tigers deserve to be ranked one or two, Rosegreen did. “We are winning convincingly,” the senior safety said. “There was only one team (LSU) in which it was a real close game. The other top teams are barely winning. They have got to give us our props.”
Auburn scored on its opening possession for the ninth time in 10 games to take a 7-0 lead after it looked like the Bulldogs might get the first points.
Georgia got the ball to start the game after the Tigers won the toss and deferred. Georgia kept the ball for 11 plays before stalling at the 19-yard line, but the Bulldogs failed to cash in when Andy Bailey’s 36-yard field goal try was too low and too wide.
The Tigers took over at the 20 and scored in eight plays. Brown set the tone by running 34 yards with a screen pass to start the march.
The rest of the drive was running plays with six by Williams and a 13-yard run by Campbell from the shotgun.
The touchdown came on an option pitch from Campbell to the Cadillac, who was untouched at right end. John Vaughn’s PAT kick gave the Tigers a 7-0 edge with 6:14 left in the first quarter.
Auburn’s second touchdown came after its only major first half miscue. On a punt blocked by David Pollack, Georgia got possession at the Tiger 42 after Will Herring was hit late out of bounds after catching the punt in the air and trying to get the first down.
However, three plays later All-American candidate Rogers changed the momentum by intercepting a Greene pass in the end zone on a ball intended for Reggie Brown.
Two rushes by Ronnie Brown got the drive started with a first and 10 at the AU 42. On the ninth play of the possession, a second and nine at the UGA 29, offensive coordinator Al Borges reached into his bag of tricks and stunned the Bulldogs on a halfback pass from the Cadillac to Anthony Mix, who was uncovered and walked into the north end zone for a touchdown.
“It’s a play that I make in practice all the time,” Williams said. “I think I have just overthrown the ball one time.”
Quarterback Campbell said it was a beautiful throw and a beautiful call. “We thought it would be wide open because we had them coming up to stop the run,” he noted. “I would give Carnell an A+ on that pass.”
That score came with 5:11 left before halftime. The Tigers stretched the margin at the break to 17-0 when the defense backed up UGA with a sack for a 10-yard loss by McClover. A penalty then backed UGA up to its eight and Auburn took over at the Georgia 38.
Campbell hit tight end Cooper Wallace for 22 yards on the first play, but the Tigers couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone and settled for a 32-yard Vaughn field goal with 30 seconds left in the half.
Although neither team scored in the third quarter, Auburn held the upper hand much of the period. The Tigers kept the ball for the first nine plays, but Campbell’s pass to Devin Aromashodu in the end zone was intercepted by Tim Jennings to end the threat.
Georgia moved the ball into Auburn territory with the help of penalties, but the Tigers got the ball back when Rosegreen’s big hit on wide receiver Reggie Brown knocked the ball loosed and knocked Brown out of the game with a concussion. Auburn took over at its own 16.
The Tigers moved the ball into UGA territory, but stalled after a holding penalty and punted the ball away to the ball back to the Tigers. The Cadillac had his second big punt return, a 40-yarder, to put the Tigers in business at the Bulldog 31.
Five plays later the Tigers scored on a beautifully thrown lob pass from Campbell to Brown for the 15-yard score with 14:13 left in the fourth quarter. That put the Tigers up 24-0.
Georgia averted the shutout by scoring on a six-yard pass from Greene to tight end Leonard Pope with 2:13 left. Auburn’s Ben Obomanu recovered the onside kick and all that was left was a postgame celebration.
Tiger fans celebrated late into the night at Toomer's Corner.
Auburn defensive coordinator Gene Chizik had special praise for the secondary, particularly the cornerbacks. “Carlos showed again he is a special player and Montae Pitts stepped up to the challenge and played very well. I thought the defensive front did a very good job against a really talented offense.”
Offensive coordinator Al Borges said it was a no-brainer putting the ball in the hands of seniors Brown, Williams and Campbell. “When you have players who can run, block and catch like they do, I wouldn’t be doing my job if we did anything else,” he said.
Auburn returns to action next Saturday with a 2:30 p.m. game at Alabama to close the regular season.