3:30 PM ET, September 16, 2006
Jordan-Hare Stadium, AUBURN, AL
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Eric Brock's instructions were simple and altogether appropriate for the final play of Auburn's latest slugfest with LSU.
"The coaches told us anything we see in front of us, you hit it," the Auburn safety said.
|Year||Opponent||Pts Allowed||Yds Allowed|
Brock's game-saving tackle just a few yards from the goal line on the final play preserved No. 3 Auburn's 7-3 win over sixth-ranked LSU on Saturday. He also tipped away a fourth-down pass to end another late LSU threat as Auburn turned away the visiting Tigers again and again.
What has become the Southeastern Conference's most rugged rivalry had all the usual elements: two punishing defenses, an pivotal officials' call that left both sides a bit perplexed and some follies in the kicking game.
The call went Auburn's way.
With LSU facing fourth-and-8 from Auburn's 31 and 2:43 left, JaMarcus Russell fired the ball to Early Doucet near the goal line. A diving Brock deflected the pass, but Zach Gilbert was called for pass interference that would have kept the drive alive.
The officials overturned the call, although replays showed the contact came before the ball was tipped by Brock.
"I got sick to my stomach," said Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville about seeing the flag. "I still don't understand it. It's just a judgment call and thank goodness it went our way."
LSU coach Les Miles wasn't happy with the change.
"If the ball is tipped at the line of scrimmage, there is no pass interference," said Miles, also unhappy with a pass interference call against his team. "The ball was tipped downfield. The proper explanation will be forthcoming."
Auburn (3-0, 2-0) got the ball but LSU's defense stopped Kenny Irons on three straight runs. Irons had 70 yards on 25 tough carries.
The visiting Tigers (2-1, 0-1) drove to Auburn's 24 with 2.5 seconds left as Russell hooked up with Craig Davis for gains of 20 and 21 yards and Dwayne Bowe for 21. On the final play, Russell went to Davis again. The receiver caught the pass inside the 10, but Brock stopped him cold with a jarring hit at the 4.
"It was a low throw on the final play, but it was not JaMarcus' fault," Davis said. "I was expecting it to be a jump ball in the end zone."
Only then could Auburn fans celebrate, their national title hopes healthy. The win, coupled with No. 2 Notre Dame's 47-21 loss to Michigan, could push Auburn up to No. 2 in the rankings.
"This was a statement game right here," Auburn cornerback David Irons said. "It let everyone know we're for real."
The defense certainly is. LSU had five drives inside Auburn territory end with no points in the lowest scoring game at Auburn since 1973.
It's the first time since 1972 these teams have met with both ranked in the Top 10 lived up to its billing -- mostly thanks to a pair of blitzing defenses.
"It was a very violent game," Tuberville said. "There was more speed than I've seen on the field in a long time. It's hard to find a loser in that game.
"Our guys played like champions. When you look at the score and the stats, everybody would think it was a boring game but there was a lot of excitement."
Auburn's hoping recent history repeats itself. Five times in the last six years, the winner of this game has won the Western Division title. The last three meetings have been decided by a combined eight points, with Auburn winning two of them.
Not surprisingly in this series, LSU's 3-0 halftime lead was based on two field goals: John Vaughn's 26-yard miss for Auburn and Colt David's 42-yarder to end the half.
Vaughn, who missed five field goals in last year's overtime loss to LSU, sent the short attempt bouncing off the left upright with 4:15 left in the half.
Auburn finally scored on Cox's 1-yard sneak with 4:53 left in the third quarter to end a a methodical, 12-play drive powered by the tackle-breaking Irons and completions of 17 and 19 yards by Cox. He was surprised by the call.
"I don't think we've ever run that quarterback sneak on the goal line," said Cox, held to just 110 yards passing with an interception. "Usually it's Kenny right and Kenny left. The call kind of surprised me."
LSU hadn't allowed a touchdown since last year's SEC championship game, a string of 16-plus quarters.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... LSU's final attempt at the end zone ended up five yards short on what turned out to be the final play of the game.
Gameball goes to... Brandon Cox. It wasn't pretty at times, but Cox scored the game's only TD on a 1-yard run in the third quarter.
Stat of the game... 1.87: Underscoring the physical nature of the game, the two teams combined for less than 2 yards a rush on 61 combined carries.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||4-13||6-15|
|4th Down Conversions||0-2||1-1|
|FG||0:00||Lsu 42 yard field goal GOOD.|
Drive info: 13 plays, 55 yds in 4:16
|TD||4:53||Auburn rush for a touchdown. John Vaughn extra point GOOD.|
Drive info: 12 plays, 80 yds in 6:42