7:45 PM ET, November 12, 2005
Sanford Stadium, ATHENS, GA
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- The Deep South's oldest rivals came into their 109th meeting separated by one point.
Now make it Auburn by two.
In a wild game that came down to the craziest play of all, Devin Aromashodu went 62 yards with a fourth-down pass, setting up John Vaughn's 20-yard field goal with 6 seconds left that gave the Tigers a 31-30 win over No. 9 Georgia on Saturday night.
Aromashodu fumbled at the end of his big play, but teammate Courtney Taylor bailed out the 15th-ranked Tigers by recovering the ball before it rolled out of the end zone.
The touchdown didn't count -- the fumble couldn't be advanced -- so Auburn got the ball at the Georgia 3. That was actually better for the Tigers, allowing them to run the clock down before Vaughn's chip shot.
"It will go down as a classic," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said.
Or just another Auburn-Georgia game.
The school's first met in 1892, and with the win Auburn pushed its record against the Bulldogs to 53-48-8. But the closeness of the series is best exemplified by the cumulative score -- Auburn 1,650, Georgia 1,648.
All the news on Saturday wasn't good for Auburn. The Tigers' hopes of reaching the Southeastern Conference championship game took a major blow before the kickoff.
The Tigers (8-2, 6-1 SEC) were hoping hated rival Alabama would remain unbeaten, setting up a head-to-head showdown for the Western Division title next week at Auburn.
But the Crimson Tide lost to LSU 16-13 in overtime shortly before the Auburn-Georgia game kicked off, putting the Bayou Bengals in control of the division race. LSU needs to beat SEC West weaklings Mississippi and Arkansas to earn a trip to Atlanta for the title game on Dec. 3.
"We had our shot at them and we didn't beat them," Tuberville said of LSU.
Georgia (7-2, 5-2) is actually in better shape despite the loss. Helped out by South Carolina's upset of Florida, the Bulldogs can still claim a spot in the SEC's championship game with a win over lowly Kentucky next week.
"We still control our own destiny," Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley said. "As bad as this feels we still have a lot to play for."
In a game featuring eight lead changes, Auburn came through when it counted. On fourth-and-10 at its own 34, Brandon Cox found Aromashodu breaking free over the middle.
"When it's fourth down you just cross your fingers and hope," said Auburn's Kenny Irons, who ran for 179 yards.
The receiver made the catch in stride and raced for the end zone. Just short of the goal line, Georgia defensive back Paul Oliver managed to knock the ball away.
Aromashodu was asked what he was thinking when the ball came loose: "It was terror. I was trying to get my balance so I could recover," he said.
Auburn got it at the 3 with 1:52 remaining.
The winner erased some of the sting from Vaughn's 1-of-6 performance against LSU last month, a game Auburn lost in overtime that may keep the Tigers out of the SEC championship game.
"It's tough but that's just part of being a kicker," said Vaughn, who took the advice of his father to heart. "He told me 'If you hit a game-winner against Georgia or Alabama, nobody will remember.'
"It feels like redemption."
Irons had an exhausting 37 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns.
"You can't find time to be tired," Irons said.
Irons fumbled at the Georgia 11 with just under 10 minutes remaining, but the Bulldogs fumbled the ball back two plays later.
Brannan Southerland lost the ball after catching a pass out of the backfield, and Auburn linebacker Karibi Dede scooped it up and ran 15 yards for a touchdown that put the Tigers ahead 28-27 with 9:28 remaining.
Brandon Coutu kicked his third field goal, a 41-yarder, with 3:25 left to put Georgia back ahead.
The Bulldogs were bolstered by the return of Shockley, who didn't play in a loss to Florida two weeks ago because of a knee injury.
Wearing a brace but looking fully recovered, the senior completed 20 of 36 passes for 304 yards and two TDs. He also ran seven time for 40 yards.
"My knee felt real good," he said. "I had no kinds of problems with it at all."
But the Bulldogs were without top cornerback, Tim Jennings, who sprained an ankle in practice Thursday. Oliver filled in and almost made a game-saving play.
"I was trying to punch the ball loose," Oliver said. "I thought it went out of the end zone."
No such luck for Georgia.
"I never thought that kind of play could happen," safety Greg Blue said of the long fourth-down conversion.
Cox threw for 279 yards, with Aromashodu catching four passes for 135.
Thomas Brown ran for a 6-yard touchdown with 12:30 remaining to put Georgia ahead 26-21. The Bulldogs wanted to go for two, but there was confusion on the sideline and Shockley didn't get the snap off in time. The delay of game forced Georgia to settle for Coutu's PAT. It was a point the Bulldogs could have used later.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Auburn's John Vaughn nailed a 20-yard field goal with 6 seconds to give the Tigers the win.
Gameball goes to... Auburn's Kenny Irons, who carried the ball 37 times for 179 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Stat of the game... 62: Brandon Cox found Devin Aromashodu for 62 yards on fourth down to set up the winning field goal.
The Fan Pick
26.8% of College Pick'em players picked Auburn to win the game.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-15||6-14|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||0-0|
|TD||9:45||KENNY IRONS 30 YD RUN (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 13 plays, 92 yards.
|FG||8:28||BRANDON COUTU 49 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 33 yards.
|TD||4:50||LEONARD POPE 4 YD PASS FROM D.J. SHOCKLEY (BRANDON COUTU KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 47 yards.
|TD||6:18||KENNY IRONS 6 YD RUN (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 75 yards.
|FG||1:13||BRANDON COUTU 28 YD FG|
Drive info: 13 plays, 61 yards.
|TD||10:45||MOHAMED MASSAQUOI 9 YD PASS FROM D.J. SHOCKLEY (BRANDON COUTU KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||8:21||BEN OBOMANU 30 YD RUN (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 30 yards.
|TD||12:33||THOMAS BROWN 6 YD RUN (BRANDON COUTU KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 82 yards.
|TD||9:28||KARIBI DEDE 15 YD DEFENSIVE FUMBLE RETURN (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)||28||27|
|FG||3:25||BRANDON COUTU 41 YD FG|
Drive info: 5 plays, 15 yards.
|FG||0:06||JOHN VAUGHN 20 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 77 yards.