Tigers Go 7 And Oh! With Wild 65-43 Victory

In a record-shattering performance, Auburn stayed unbeaten winning an SEC West shootout vs. Arkansas.

Auburn, Ala.--Cameron Newton did everything but don a Superman cape as the junior quarterback led his Tigers to a wild and crazy 65-43 comeback victory over Arkansas at wild and crazy Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.

Newton carried the ball 25 times for 188 yards and hit 10-14 passes for 140 yards and another score. Just as importantly, he was a stabilizing force for the Tigers who needed that on a day when the defense was leaking yardage and points at an alarming rate.

"I feel really blessed to be around such an amazing group of young men," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said after watching his Tigers survive a huge offensive performance from the Razorbacks that included 428 passing yards and 138 more on the ground.

Gene Chizik

"This football team amazes me in different ways every week," Chizik added. "That was an extremely good football team tonight and I guess it was another way we found how to win a game. It kind of goes in line with us finding a different way every week.

"It was such a team thing," Chizik said. "Our special teams--that might be one of the best special teams (games) all-around with coverage units and coverage units."

The game featured the most points scored by the Tigers in an SEC game, two more than the 63-14 victory at Florida in 1970. The 65 points were the most by the Tigers since defeating ULM 73-7 in 2003. The 108 combined points is the most in any Auburn football game and the most points ever scored in an SEC football game that did not go into overtime.

Cameron Newton runs for a touchdown.

Newton's heroics trumped a terrific off-the-bench performance by Arkansas backup quarterback Tyler Wilson, who came to the rescue of the Razorbacks when Ryan Mallett was lost in the second quarter with an injury.

Wilson came into the game with an extremely hot hand and finished the game with 332 passing yards and four touchdowns after Mallett threw for one early score and 96 yards.

However, Wilson contributed to a big statistic that helped Auburn improve its record to 7-0. He threw two interceptions that Auburn cashed into fourth quarter points.

In a wild stretch starting at the 11:44 mark when Newton put Auburn ahead 44-43 on a 15-yard touchdown pass to Emory Blake, Auburn's struggling defense decided to step up and contribute to the win.

Exactly two minutes after the offensive score, safety Zac Etheridge scooped up a fumble and raced 47 yards for a touchdown to give his team a little breathing room.

Then, on the next Arkansas play, another Auburn senior came through with a huge play. This time it was middle linebacker Josh Bynes, who dropped into zone coverage and intercepted a Wilson pass at the 40. He returned the football 33 yards. From the Arkansas seven-yard line the Tigers scored in two plays on Newton keepers to make the score 58-43.

Josh Bynes sets up a touchdown with his interception return.

That was definitely more breathing room, but perhaps not enough with the struggle the defense was having for the first three quarters.

However, the next series was the beginning of the end for the visitors as Bynes got his second pick. He didn't have a return on the second one, but Michael Dyer, who saw limited playing time due to a sore knee, got to score on his home-state Razorbacks as he carried the ball nine yards followed by a 38-yard TD run up the middle to ice the victory with 6:36 left and Auburn up by 22 points.

In less than six minutes, Auburn ripped the Razorbacks for four touchdowns. The Tigers' 28 fourth-quarter points are the most in that period since getting 28 in a 1985 59-27 victory over FSU.

"It is an awesome feeling to win this game," Bynes said. "We have been finding a way to win all year. We have to get better defensively, but we have guys who are willing to fight through adversity and try to find a way to win."

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn was wowed by his quarterback's performance. Asked if there is a better player in the country, Malzahn said, "I don't know. That is a great question. I am glad he is on our team, I will tell you that. If there is any better, they are pretty good."

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof said the Tigers tried everything to stop the Razorbacks. "We tried everything. We tried man, we tried zone, we tried zone blitz, we tried dropping everybody, we tried blitzing everybody. We struggled there for a while, but in the end the same calls seemed to work.

"The guys hung together and fought together and I think they care so much about each other the chemistry is really a driving force in what we have now," Roof added.

Arkansas punted on its first possession and Auburn had to do the same after a questionable holding call negated a long pass play to Darvin Adams.

Arkansas took advantage of good field position to move 55 yards on eight plays to take the lead as Ryan Mallett found Van Stumon in the flat on a short pass he ran in for six points.

The lead didn't last long as Newton led the Tigers on a 53-yard drive set up by a 47-yard kickoff return by Demond Washington.

The big play of the drive was a 22-yard keeper by Newton that put the Tigers in business at the 14-yard line. Newton then hit Terrell Zachery for nine yards in the flat and then bulled in from five yards out running over Jerico Nelson at the one-yard line.

The Tigers took their first lead with 14:48 to play in the second quarter when Wes Byrum hit a 43-yard field goal to cap a drive that covered 66 yards in nine plays.

However, Arkansas scored on the next possession moving 88 yards on 12 plays with Broderick Green scoring from a yard out after the possession was kept alive by a questionable pass interference call against Washington.

The Tigers quickly matched that touchdown and regained the lead at 17-14 when Mario Fannin carried the ball at right guard from four yards out. The senior lost the ball at the goal line, but it was ruled he crossed the goal line with the ball before losing it.

Following a blocked punt by Antonio Goodwin, the Tigers got great field position at the Arkansas 25. Three plays later McCalebb raced around right end untouched behind good blocks from Lee Ziemba and Eric Smith.

Auburn scored with 4:03 left in the half, but that was plenty of time for the Razorbacks who moved 66 yards in seven plays with backup quarterback Tyler Wilson leading the way. He hit Greg Childs in the end zone on a 34-yard pass play to make the score 24-21 Auburn with 1:06 left.

That was enough time for the Tigers to move 71 yards in six plays to set up a 26-yard Byrum field goal as time expired in the first half putting the Tigers on 27-21 at the break.

Arkansas outscored the Tigers 14-10 in the third period to cut the lead to 37-35 going into the fourth period. Auburn got a 28-yard field goal from Byrum in the period and Newton scored on a one-yard run after Onterio McCalebb's 99-yard kickoff return.

Arkansas scored on a 37-yard pass from Wilson to Ronnie Wingo and a 24-yard pass to Joe Adams.

The Razorbacks took the lead with 14:09 to play to cap a six-play, 64-yard march capped by a 23-yard pass from Wilson to Greg Childs at the 14:09 mark. However, from that point until the end of the game the Tigers dominated the action.

The Razorbacks fell to 4-2 overall and 1-2 in the SEC. "It was a tough game for us," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "You have to tip your hat off to Auburn, they played well and Cam Newton did an unbelievable job running the football.

"We matched them for three quarters, and I was really happy with the way our guys rallied around Tyler Wilson," Petrino said. "They all played hard. I really thought we would find a way to win the game, but we came up short. Obviously turnovers affected us in the fourth quarter, and it was the difference in the game."

Like Chizik, Petrino said special teams play was huge. "We got beat in the kicking game. There is no question they had a huge advantage on special teams with huge kick returns, and they held us to no returns. It was a big difference in field position, and made a big difference in the outcome of the game."

Commenting on Wilson's performance, Petrino said, "I thought he had a lot of poise and executed very well. He was concentrating, focusing and making plays. The way the team rallied around him and came out and played to help Tyler was something good to see.

"We give both our quarterbacks time in practice, Wilson takes all the individual reps, and splits the team reps. We always try to have a player prepared to play. We have a list of plays we think Tyler executes well, and we try to stay to that.

"I have a lot of respect for Tyler Wilson, he is a really good player and can throw the football," Petrino said. "I was happy with the way he was calm out there, he gave us a chance to be in the position for us to win in the fourth quarter, and obviously we didn't get it done."

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