Auburn Crushes Carolina to Win SEC Crown

Auburn's offense and defense put on impressive performances as the Tigers punched their ticket into the BCS Championship Game with a 56-17 victory over South Carolina.

Atlanta, Ga.--Cameron Newton accounted for a career-high six touchdowns on his way to being named the MVP of Auburn's 56-17 rout of South Carolina in the 2010 SEC Championship Football Game on Saturday at the Georgia Dome.

The junior quarterback was carried to midfield for a victory celebration by senior offensive linemen Mike Berry and Byron Isom to celebrate the second SEC Championship in the divisional era in four tries for the Tigers.

With the Gamecocks crowding the line of scrimmage daring Newton to pass the football in the first half, the Tigers built a 28-14 halftime lead with the help of three scoring passes. When the final whistle blew he ran his season touchdown responsibility total to 49 with four scoring passes and two scoring runs.

In the process he joined his former teammate at Florida, Tim Tebow, as the only two players in NCAA Division I history to rush for 20 touchdowns and throw 20 TD passes in one season.

Newton completed 17-28 passes for 335 yards before being pulled in the second quarter as the backup offensive and defensive units finished the game as Auburn improved to 13-0 and earned a spot in the BCS Championship Game next month in Arizona. South Carolina dropped to 9-4.

Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said after the game that Newton is the best player he has ever seen.

Although it may have appeared easy at times, Newton said that South Carolina, which was making its first appearance in the league title game, put up a good fight. "Going into this game we felt like it was going to be hard," Newton said. "It is a very cliche thing to say it is hard to beat a team twice and South Carolina played its heart out. From every snap, they gave it their best and we gave it our best, too."

The Auburn defense stepped up, too, holding the Gamecocks to 10 points less than they scored on Auburn in September. "I couldn't be any prouder of how hard our guys played today," defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. "This group is a special. It truly is a team and this was a team win."

Auburn out-gained the Gamecocks 589-349 with 351 yards through the air. That helped the Tigers set an SEC Championship Game record for most points scored and the 589 was also a championship game high.

Newton's 408 total yards are the second most in the history of the league championship game by Jason Campbell's 431 for Auburn vs. Tennessee in 2004.

Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said, "It really helps us when we get off to a fast start. It was really good especially how we played last week in the first half. It was a lot of fun out there in this game."

Malzahn noted that the Gamecocks tried to aggressively stop the Auburn running attack that had gashed them for 334 yards earlier this year. "They rolled their safeties down and dared us to throw it," he said. "Our guys really executed and made some big plays in this championship game."

Auburn took the opening kickoff and scored on a beautifully executed drive that featured a 62-yard bomb to Darvin Adams on the second play that put the Tigers in great field position at the USC 14.

Two plays later Newton found Onterio McCalebb open near the sideline and hit him for a 12-yard touchdown play.

The Gamecocks answered with a scoring drive on their first possession moving 75 yards on seven plays. The touchdown came on a 15-yard pass play to fullback Patrick DiMarco who was open in the middle of Auburn's two-deep zone defense.

Auburn didn't take long to regain the lead. The Tigers drove 74 yards on 12 plays converting two third downs on the way to the end zone. The first was a third and 12 scramble for 20 yards by Newton. The second was a pass to Adams for 13 yards on third and 10.

Michael Dyer then ran for 11 yards to give the Tigers first and goal at the six. Newton then ran for one and scored on a read option play up the middle on second down to put the Tigers up 14-7 with 5:31 left in the first quarter.

Cameron Newton scores on his first touchdown run of the game.

After forcing a punt by the Gamecocks, the Tigers had a quick strike scoring drive going 76 yards in four plays.

Newton started the drive with an 18-yard pass to Philip Lutzenkirchen and on a third and six Adams got behind the defense on a sideline route for a 54-yard touchdown play. With Wes Byrum's kick the Tigers led 21-7 with 2:09 left in the first quarter.

Adams had a memorable game, but it could have been even better. The junior dropped a would-be touchdown pass from Newton that would have put the Tigers up by three touchdowns late in the half. The Tigers had to settle for a field goal try by Byrum, which hit the right upright and bounced away no good.

South Carolina took advantage of those two breaks to march 80 yards on nine plays to score on a one-yard pass from Garcia to Alson Jeffery, who beat man coverage by freshman safety Demetruce McNeal, who was filling in for Zac Etheridge after McNeal was injured on the previous play.

South Carolina's touchdown drive came with 16 seconds left in the half, but remarkably that was enough time for Auburn and Newton to work some magic.

Taking over at the AU 40 after a short kickoff to Eric Smith, Newton hit Emory Blake for nine yards on a sideline route leaving enough time for Newton to run one more play and throw the football into the end zone.

Newton's line drive pass bounced off the hands of safety DeVonte Holloman into the arms of Adams for the touchdown giving the Tigers a 28-14 lead at halftime.

Darvin Adams signals touchdown after his catch on the final play of the half.

At halftime the Tigers held a 348-196 lead in total yards. Newton was 13-22 for 281 yards with Adams catching seven balls for an SEC-record 217 yards (for a whole game). Newton led the Tigers in rushing with 37 yards on 11 carries.

The 28 points was all the Tigers would need, but that added 28 more in the second half.

Newton capped a 75-yard, seven-play drive with a one-yard run to cap Auburn's opening possession of the second half.

The Tigers slammed the door on the Gamecocks with an interception return by T'Sharvan Bell, who was making his second Auburn start. Craig Stevens forced Garcia to rush a pass on a blitz and the ball landed in the waiting arms of Bell, who ran 10 yards for a score.

"Coach Roof said there was going to be a gap for Craig to run through and he forced the bad pass," Bell said. "It was a big play for the defense--what a great, great feeling it was."

That put the Tigers up 42-1 with 7:23 left in the third quarter.

The Tigers made it 49-14 on a seven-yard pass to Emory Blake with 11:14 left in the fourth quarter. "It was a double-move and a perfectly throw pass," the sophomore said.

South Carolina added a field goal and Auburn's backups finished the scoring with 2:22 left on a six-yard run by Mario Fannin.

Auburn's players celebrate with the SEC Championship Trophy.

"It's unreal and words can't describe how I feel right now," senior offensive tackle Lee Ziemba. "I am real proud of everybody. Now we have one more to go."

The Tigers are expected to take on unbeaten Oregon on Jan. 10 at the BCS Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz.

Final Statistics

Adams, who finished with seven catches for 217 yards, set an SEC Championship Game record for total receiving yards in the first half.

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