Auburn, Ala.--Coach Tommy Tuberville said Auburn’s historic sixth consecutive football victory over archrival Alabama was a game for the seniors and the Auburn fans.
“This is truly a fan game--this is for you,” said Tuberville, whose 2006 team tied the school record of five straight wins vs. the Tide set by Shug Jordan’s squads from 1954-58 prior to setting a new mark Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Led by an emotional group of seniors, who one-by-one stepped in front of their teammates the night before the game and talked about what being an Auburn football player meant to them, the Tigers took a 17-10 victory over Alabama.
“I want to thank the seniors for all they have done,” Tuberville said. “I want to thank them for their efforts. The fifth-year guys have won 49 games. The four-year guys have won 41 games and in this league that is almost impossible.”
That improved the Tigers to 8-4 overall and sent Nick Saban’s Tide headed home to Tuscaloosa with a fourth straight loss and a 6-6 record.
“Winning my final game at Auburn means so much to me,” said senior noseguard Josh Thompson, who finished with a game-high 12 tackles, an exceptional number for a guy at his position.
“Josh seemed like he was everywhere,” said fellow senior Patrick Lee, a cornerback of a secondary that kept the strength of the Alabama team, its receiver corps, in check.
The Tide finished the game with a season-low 113 passing yards as John Parker Wilson hit 12-26 passes for no scores with one interception.
In a game that turned into a defensive struggle after the Tigers jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead, Auburn had more success running the football than passing. Brad Lester carried the ball 22 times for 98 yards and his backup, sophomore Ben Tate, ran the ball 11 times for 77 yards and a score.
Eric Brock and Jerraud Powers cover Bama's Keith Brown.
QB Brandon Cox wasn’t sharp throwing the ball, hitting 12-22 passes with one interception and no TD passes, but had plenty to be excited about as he held up six fingers as the clock ran down to zero. He was the starting quarterback for half of the Auburn victories in the current six-game winning streak vs. Bama.
The Tigers won the opening toss and deferred. Auburn kicked off and forced a three-and-out for the Tide to open the game. The Auburn offense opened with good field position following a fair catch by Robert Dunn.
The offense came out with plenty of energy and drove 65 yards on 12 plays. Lester got the drive started with runs of five, nine, two and nine and Tate carried the load closer to the goal with runs of three, five, eight and three. The final one was a touchdown at right guard with 8:08 on the clock.
The Tigers had kept the drive alive on a fourth down and less than one when Cox pushed forward for two yards on a sneak to the Tide 28.
Bama managed a first down on its second offensive series, but punted three plays later with the Tigers taking over at their own 41.
A 31-yard pass over the middle to Rodgeriqus Smith on first down opened the drive that produced a 37-yard field goal by Wes Byrum.
The zebras then went to work for the Tide to allow Bama to cut the gap with a touchdown on the next series.
After a 41-yard kickoff return by Jonathan Lowe to the Tide 47, Bama was gifted a first down on third and three when a well covered pass down the sideline to D.J. Hall was ruled pass interference on Jonathan Wilhite.
The Tide scored on the 11th play of the possession, a fourth and inches for a first down QB sneak by John Parker Wilson that was ruled a touchdown although it was reviewed but not overturned. That narrowed the Auburn lead to 10-7 with 11:37 left in the second quarter.
Neither team scored the rest of the half, but each had their chances.
Auburn moved to the Tide 29, but back-to-back sacks on Cox moved the Tigers out of field goal range.
Alabama then missed a scoring opportunity as Tide kicker Leigh Tiffin missed a 44-yard field goal try wide left after a roughing the punter penalty on Mario Fannin jump-started a Tide drive.
The Tigers nearly gave away a score just before halftime when Cox was intercepted by Rolando McClain, who returned the ball 23 yards to the AU 19 with 50 seconds left. McClain led the Tide defense with eight solo tackles and seven assists
However, Auburn’s Jerraud Powers intercepted a pass bobbled by Hall in the end zone with 17 seconds left in the half and Auburn took over at the 20 after the touchback.
The Tigers missed a scoring opportunity to start the third quarter. After driving to the Tide 27, Cox missed a wide open pass to Carl Stewart that could have gone the distance. Two plays later Byrum was wide right on a 44-yard field goal try with 11:57 on the clock.
Neither team scored in the third quarter. Auburn added an insurance touchdown with 4:50 to play on a one-yard quarterback sneak by Cox to cap a drive that covered 44 yards in nine plays. The Tigers got the great field position following a 31-yard punt return by Dunn.
“In a big game like this everybody wants to make a big play and I was able to do that,” Dunn said. “It feels great to make that happen.”
Although Auburn was up 17-7, there was still work to do. Alabama moved the ball, using its hurry-up offense, into range for a 49-yard field goal on fourth and 10 by Leigh Tiffin to cut the lead to seven with 1:47 to play.
An onside kick failed as tight end Cole Bennett recovered the football and Auburn was able to run out the clock.
The seniors and other Auburn players stayed on the field long after the final whistle to celebrate with Auburn fans on a night when the defense stepped up big for the Tigers, limiting the Tide to 225 yards, which is a season low for the Bama offense. Auburn’s offense managed just 282, but it was enough on a night when Thompson, Tray Blackmon, Quentin Groves and friends were the stars of the show for the winners.
Commenting on being 3-0 vs. the starting QB in the Iron Bowl rivalry, Cox said, "Being in the same categoary as Jason Campbell and never losing to Alabama, us seniors, we never lost, it feels awesome. To have never lost to that team, you can't get any better than that."
Sophomore cornerback Powers said he was happy to get the win for the seniors. "These guys will never get a chance to play in Jordan-Hare Stadium again. It's kind of like giving them an early Christmas present."
Game Of My Life Auburn
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