Tigers Defeat Vandy 24-21 (or 24-14?)

Nashville, Tenn.--<b>Damon Duval</b> kicked a 49-yard field goal with 2:58 to play to lead Auburn to a 24-21 football victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday night.

Damon Duval

The scored was even at 21-21 when Vandy "tied" game with a phantom touchdown with 11:42 to play when a ball that was not caught was ruled a five-yard touchdown pass reception.

The Tigers didn't wrap up the victory until 42 seconds were left to play when a fourth and one faked field goal play was stuffed by linebacker Dontarrious Thomas as Vandy coach Woody Widenhofer decided not to try a 44-yarder into the wind for a potential tie. Auburn then ran out the clock and improved its record to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the SEC.

Jason Campbell hit 17-24 passes for 247 yards for the Tigers on a night when Vandy's Greg Zolman became the leading career passer in school history by hitting 20-42 for 162 yards.

Campbell threw a 35-yard TD pass to tight end Robert Johnson with 7:34 left in the third quarter to put Auburn on top 14-7 a little more than a minute after Vandy scored on AU for the first time on a four-yard run by Lew Thomas, who burned the Tigers for 173 rushing yards on 27 carries.

Vandy tied the game late in the third quarter on two-yard run by Thomas as the Commodores took advantage of a fumbled punt by Joe Walkins to score in just two plays from 21 yards out.

Auburn regained the lead with 50 seconds left in the third period on a one-yard run by Carnell Williams as the Tigers cashed in a 24-yard interception return by Karlos Dansby. Williams, a true freshman, carried the football six times for 56 yards on a night when starter Ronnie Brown did not play due to injuries.

Amazingly, Vandy was given an unearned touchdown with 11:42 to play on a third and goal to go play on an incomplete pass from Zolman intended for Dan Stricker. Although Stricker never came close to catching the football, the play was ruled a reception and a TD to tie the game at 21-21.

The only points in the first half came on the opening possession. Campbell scrambled for 34 yards to his own 49 on a third and 14 call. On the next play, freshman "Cadillac" Williams raced into the end zone from 51 yards out on the fourth play of the contest.

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville watched his offense get whistled for 10 penalties for 89 yards. "We made two many fundamental mistakes," said Tuberville, whose Tigers are the only SEC West team that has yet to suffer a league loss. On a night when the AU offense averaged nearly seven yards a play, the penalties and two lost fumbles almost allowed the Commodores, who slipped to 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the SEC, to pull an upset.

Junior Marcel Willis had his first big game of the season for the Tigers. The junior, who has missed most of the season due to injury, caught four passes for 87 yards. Tight end Johnson caught four passes for 56 yards.

In the unofficial game statistics, Thomas led the Tigers in tackles with six solos and three assists, including two for losses. Dansby, who made his first collegiate start at whip, added seven solo tackles, one assist, one interception, two pass deflections and one quarterback pressure. LInebacker Tavarreus Pounds was credited with six solo tackles and one assist.

The game featured the first start for true freshman center Danny Lindsey, who was filling in for injured junior Ben Nowland.

The Tigers return home next Saturday for a 6 p.m. home game vs. Mississippi State. Originally scheduled as an afternoon game, the contest has been moved to accomodate ESPN2 television coverage.

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