A stadium record crowd of 86,063 fans on a hot and muggy sun-drenched Saturday also got to witness the coming out party of a healthier Casinious Moore, who is finally full-speed after a long and exhaustive rehab from a knee injury he suffered before enrolling at AU. Moore ran for three touchdowns, scoring on runs of 11, two and 36 yards.
"I am really happy for Casinious," said Auburn running backs coach Eddie Gran. "It was a breakout game for him. It is nice to have several backs you feel confident with."
Moore gained 69 yards on 16 carries as Auburn rushed the football 52 times for 194 yards. Ronnie Brown, who suffered cramps, did not look as sharp as he did the first week but led all runners with 84 yards on 25 carries. Gran kept freshman tailback Carnell "Cadillac" Williams in the garage on Saturday as he recovers from a sprained ankle. Gran says that Williams should be full speed next week.
Auburn led 27-0 in the third quarter and had kept the Ole Miss defense under control until the Rebels put together an 80-yard scoring drive late in that period. The visitors added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make what looked to be a rout into a close finish.
"That is a pretty good character builder after dominating the first three quarters," Coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We let them back in the game and couldn't get a break for anything.
"I thought Jason Campbell grew up and played better," the Auburn coach added. "We needed to play down to the end and put our backs to the wall and make some plays. Casinious Moore had an excellent day. He actually played with a concussion part of the game.
"Defensively, it was just a great three quarters. We just dominated from the beginning of the game to the end of the third quarter. We will take this win. We have a lot to learn from it."
Campbell hit 15-19 passes for 142 yards while Manning of Ole Miss threw more than twice as many passes. Campbell had one pass interceted, a fade route to Deandre Green that was picked off in the end zone on the opening possession. Manning completed passes 24-39 for 265 yards with one TD and one interception after being held to 39 passing yards in the first two quarters.
Middle linebacker Mark Brown said, "We are just happy to get the win. We can correct our mistakes in practice this week and try to come out and play better the whole game next week. We will have to play well the whole game to beat LSU because they are a real good team."
Defensive coordinator John Lovett credited Manning for playing better in the second half, but said his rebuilt secondary has plenty of work to do in practice this week. Auburn missed its first scoring opportunity on the game?s opening drive when Jason Campbell was intercepted in the end zone when trying to hit wide receiver Deandre Green on a fade route.
Auburn ran 20 plays in the opening quarter to just nine for the Rebels, who had just 20 total yards in the period.
The Tigers took the lead on a 36-yard field goal in the opening minute of the second quarter. The score was set up by Damon Duval's punt, which backed the Rebels up to their own three yard line. Ole Miss punter Cody Ridgeway then made the Rebel field position woes worse by shanking a 15-yarder putting Auburn in business at the Ole Miss 23. AU was able to capitalize on the field position on Duval's field goal.
The first Ole Miss turnover of the game, a fumbled pass reception, set up Auburn's second field goal. DeMarco McNeil recovered the fumble at the Ole Miss 36. The Tigers had to again settle for a field goal as Duval hit a 25-yarder after AU couldn't take advantage of a first down and goal to go situation at the Rebel four.
The next Ole Miss turnover was more costly as Auburn cashed in a fumbled punt return. Spencer Johnson fell on the football after Robert Johnson made the hit on Jason Armstead.
Defensive line coach Don Dunn said he liked some of what he saw from Johnson and others, but he added, "We don't have that killer instinct like we need and will have as the season goes along. We are a young team and we need to learn how to put somebody away."
Casinious Moore got the touchdown from 11 yards out to finish a four-play, 15-yard drive. Moore exploded through a gap in the middle of the Rebel defense and was untouched all the way into the end zone with 3:06 left in the first half.
The Auburn defense dominated the first half and ran its streak of consecutive quarters to six without allowing the opposition to move past the 50-yard line. (It ended with 9:58 left in the third period when the Rebels recovered Green's fumble at the AU 47.) At intermission, the Rebels had managed just 59 yards on 19 plays while Auburn had the ball for 42 plays while netting 161 yards.
The defense set the tone to start the second half. Spencer Johnson's hit on Manning on the opening play of the third quarter popped the ball loose. After linebacker Dontarrious Thomas missed the ball while trying to scoop it on the run, the other inside linebacker, Mark Brown, came up with the ball at the Rebel 15. After two Ronnie Brown runs put the ball first and goal at the Ole Miss two, Moore followed a lead block from Brandon Johnson for the touchdown. Duval's PAT put the Tigers on top 20-0.
Moore made the score 27-0 with a 36-yard run around right end. Auburn's scoring drive was set up by Stanford Simmons' interception that gave the Tigers possession at their own 41. Auburn's scoring march took just four plays.
The Rebels got on the scoreboard with 3:02 left in the third quarter when tailback Robert Williams capped a 13-play, 80-yard drive to cut the game to 27-7.
On their next possession, the visitors narrowed the lead to 27-14 at the 14:04 mark of the fourth quarter when Manning threw a short route to Omar Rayford, who made a pivot move past freshman cornerback Carlos Rogers and went the distance for a touchdown. That capped a five-play drive that covered 85 yards.
The Rebels cut the gap to six points with 4:41 left when Charles Stackhouse scored from five yards out following a pass interference call on fourth down, the second fourth down penalty that kept the 14-play, 80-yard drive alive.
In the unofficial tackle chart kept at the stadium press box, defensive back Roderick Hood was listed as the leading tackler with six solos and one assist. Travaris Robinson, a cornerback, was next with six stops and linebacker Dontarrious Thomas had one solo tackles and five assists.
Auburn begins a three-game road trip next Saturday with an SEC West matchup vs. the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge, La. Kickoff is 8 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPN2.