FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas' defense chased Auburn's tailbacks all over the field…
AU's Captain Comeback Strikes Again
Auburn, Ala.--What happened on a fateful night in Athens, Ga. in 2005 was just a sign of things to come for Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox. Engineering a late drive to win the game over the Bulldogs, the sophomore made some huge plays in the victory with many coming late. Since that time Cox has had many chances to engineer game-winning drives and more often than not he's delivered. Just this season, he took the Tigers down the field to score against Kansas State late and put the Tigers up for good. In losses to South Florida and Mississippi State Cox again gave the Tigers a chance because of his play late in the game. Two weeks ago against the Florida Gators on the road he drove the Tigers into position for a Wes Byrum field goal to once again deliver in the clutch. Saturday night against the Arkansas Razorbacks, Cox's two-minute skills were once again needed after the Hogs scored with just 1:36 left to take a 7-6 lead. The first order of business was to get good field position to set up the drive. That came from running back Brad Lester, who returned a Razorback kickoff to the 47-yard line to put the offense in business. Lester says there was no question in his mind the Tigers would come back and win the game. "I had no doubt," Lester says. "As soon as they kicked the ball off and when the ball went to my side I had no doubt we would move the ball down the field and get at least three points." From there it was all about Cox and the Auburn passing game. Struggling all night with just 10 completions in his first 19 attempts for 60 yards, Cox hit 3-4 passes for 41 yards on the drive that set up Byrum's second game-winner of the year from 20 yards. The key play came on a Cox to Robert Dunn pass that went for 30 yards and sealed the fate of the Razorbacks. Dunn says it was a play the Tigers had been waiting to use and finally got what they were looking for out of the defense. "We had been watching a lot of film as receivers and their defense played a lot of press-man," Dunn says. "I knew coming off the peel-motion, I motioned to the tackle and came back, that he was kind of trailing me. I kind of had a feeling I was going to get the ball because I had told Coach (Al) Borges earlier in the game that it was open, but Cox got pressured and wound up going the other way. "We came back to the play and sure enough he was trailing me. He threw the ball before I made my cut and I came out of the cut and he was still behind me. I reached up and grabbed the ball. He was in a trail position and it was kind of hard to tackle from behind me. I just ran up field and the rest is history." From there Benjamin Tate took over. Running the ball three consecutive times for nine yards, the Tigers took the easy kick and the victory. Tate says while it wasn't pretty, it was classic Auburn football under Coach Tommy Tuberville and what you must do to win on the road. "That's just what we do," Tate says. "That's Auburn football. We pride ourselves in going on the road and being road warriors and winning." While the defense more than did its part with a superb job against Arkansas' running game, the play of Cox at the end of the game ultimately was the difference in winning and losing for the Tigers. Like he's done so many times before, Cox delivered and Tuberville says he has the utmost confidence that if he's called upon again he'll come through for Auburn. "He's experienced," Tuberville says. "He knows what he's doing. He knows the offense. He knows what gives and takes. Sometimes he looks like he makes a bad throw, like one time he threw the ball at a guy's feet, but I think that's what he's learned more than anything to not force the ball in critical situations like the last drive. He took another couple of licks last night that most of us would still be home nursing, but he bounces back. He's tough. "The players respect him," he adds. "That's the reason last night they just felt like they would win the game with a minute and a half to go with him at the helm because he's done it so many times. It was fun to watch."
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