<
>

Ground game powers Auburn win over Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- It really didn't matter who played
tailback for Auburn against Kentucky on Saturday -- they just kept
piling up yards.

Kenny Irons, Tristan Davis and Tre Smith combined for 364 yards
rushing and five touchdowns as No. 17 Auburn posted its best
offensive output of the season in a 49-27 win over the Wildcats.

Irons carried 23 times for 103 yards and three touchdowns, all
in the first half, while Davis added 162 yards and a touchdown on
eight carries and the Tigers (7-2, 5-1 Southeastern Conference)
prepped for a showdown next Saturday at No. 11 Georgia.

Smith had 13 carries for 99 yards, including a 46-yard
fourth-quarter touchdown run. Had he gained one more yard, Auburn
would have had a trio of 100-yard rushers for the first time since
1983.

"We played a lot of guys, got a lot of experience," Auburn
coach Tommy Tuberville said. "It's not one of those where you jump
up and down and say you played a great game. But sometimes you have
to play games like that and win, especially on the road."

Kentucky (2-6, 1-4) has lost 15 straight games to Auburn, dating
to 1966, but scored more points against the Tigers than any other
team this season. Auburn entered the game ranked fourth in NCAA
Division I-A in total defense, while Kentucky ranked 108th in total
offense. The Tigers had allowed a total of 47 points in five
previous SEC games.

Auburn had 589 yards of offense, wearing down the Wildcats with
touchdown drives of 80, 69, 80, 75, 81 and 80 yards. Irons scored
on runs of 9, 1 and 2 yards, while Davis -- a part-time defensive
back who had only two previous carries this season -- took over in
the second half and sprinted 75 yards for a score the first time he
touched the football.

"I'd probably say my future is at running back," Davis said.

Receiver Prechae Rodriguez caught a 41-yard touchdown pass in
the first half and also scored on a 5-yard reverse play in the
fourth quarter.

Kentucky tailback Rafael Little, the SEC's leader in all-purpose
yards, rushed 17 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns and caught
six passes for 122 yards. He became the first Kentucky player to
record at least 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game
since Anthony White against South Carolina on Oct. 10, 1998.

"When this thing gets done and we get the pieces in place, then
he might get the recognition he deserves," Kentucky coach Rich
Brooks said. "I think he's one of the best running backs in the
league."

Andre Woodson completed 26-of-43 passes for a career-high 335
yards, the first time a Kentucky quarterback had passed for at
least 300 yards in a game since Jared Lorenzen did so in a
seven-overtime loss to Arkansas on Nov. 1, 2003.

Little's 25-yard touchdown run, after Kentucky's Arliss Beach
recovered a fumbled punt, put Kentucky up 7-0 less than three
minutes into the game. Auburn responded with touchdowns on four of
its first five possessions to take a 28-10 halftime lead.

Irons' first touchdown tied the score. It came one play after
officials ruled Auburn receiver Ben Obomanu was down and didn't
fumble after catching a pass. The play was reviewed and upheld.

Irons scored on fourth-and-goal from the 1 to put Auburn up
14-7. Kentucky pulled within 14-10 on a 25-yard field goal from
Taylor Begley, but then Auburn caught another break from the
officials midway through the second quarter.

Rodriguez went out of bounds, then came back in before catching
a 41-yard pass from Brandon Cox and stepping into the end zone.

An offensive player who goes out of bounds on a play cannot be
the first player to touch the football after coming back inbounds,
but officials ruled that Kentucky cornerback Antoine Huffman
blocked Rodriguez out of bounds and allowed the touchdown to stand.
Replays showed Rodriguez had pushed Huffman before going out of
bounds, but that wasn't reviewable.

Brooks said it was "obvious (offensive) pass interference" but
added that "I know we're not going to get any breaks on this
stuff."

Kentucky coaches protested the call so much they drew two
personal fouls, and a few fans threw items onto the Commonwealth
Stadium field. When officials exited the field at halftime, a dozen
uniformed officers were present on the field and in the stands for
crowd-control purposes.

Kentucky athletic department spokesman Scott Stricklin said
neither the officiating crew nor the replay official would comment
about their calls.