Tigers Stun No. 1; Gators Go Down at Jordan-Hare

Auburn, Ala.--For a third week in a row, a fourth quarter <b>Damon Duval</b> field goal was the difference as the Tigers shocked the college football world with a 23-20 victory over No. 1 ranked Florida.

Duval calmly kicked a 44-yard field for the winning margin with 10 seconds to play, his strong right leg drilling the football through a heavy gusting wind, the newly arrived rain and through the heart of Gator fans everywhere, who thought they were watching a possible national championship team in action this year.

On a night when the Tigers won with what Coach Tommy Tuberville called a great all-around team effort, Duval pointed to big play after big play by the offense and defense as the keys to the victory. "I had the easiest job," the junior claimed.

Celebration time at Jordan-Hare.

There was more than enough glory to go around as the defense in particular stood out, but the offense and special teams also were major contributors to the victory over the 21-point favorites from Gainesville.

"You have got to give it to our defense," Tuberville said. "We played a great game on defense. Our kicking game was outstanding. Our fans were great. The offense got the job done when we needed it. It was a big effort on both sides.

"I am proud of young guys like Mayo Sowell and Phillip Pate coming in, " Tuberville said. "We didn't have a starting linebacker or a second team linebacker that played the second half. They took a lot of pride and had fun out there tonight."

Florida was averaging close to 600 yards and almost 49 points, but the Gators could manage just 328 yards. The Tiger defense completely frustrated the UF running attack, holding the Gators to minus 36 yards on the ground. Although Rex Grossman passed for 364 yards, he was also intercepted four times while throwing just two touchdown passes. Coming into the game, he had 20 TD passes and just three interceptions.

Florida scored on its first and last possessions of the first half, but the Tigers held the Gators to field goals on both occasions.

Chandler's first field goal, a 45-yarder with the wind, came at the 11:24 mark after the Gators moved 24 yards on six plays after Duval's 31-yard punt went out of bounds.

Auburn quickly matched the field goal as Tim Carter raced 65 yards with the kickoff to the Gator 32. The Tigers could manage just four yards on three plays before Damon Duval hit a 45-yarder into the stiff wind.

A change at quarterback produced immediate results for the Tigers on their opening possession of the second quarter. With Daniel Cobb at quarterback, the Tigers drove 59 yards on 11 plays with the backup QB getting the final yard on a fourth down and one quarterback sneak. That put the Tigers on top 10-3 with 11:03 left in the second quarter.

The Gators, who had outscored opponents 151-18 in the first half in their first five games, had to settle for just six at the break when Chandler hit a 32-yarder with 21 seconds left in the second quarter.

The Gators came out in the third quarter and looked like the number one team with a quick score, moving 72 yards on six plays. Rex Grossman threw a 20-yard TD pass to Reche Caldwell for the score to put the Gators on top 13-10.

James Callier (51) said he could feel the upset coming all week long.

That lead lasted until the first play of the fourth quarter when Chris Butler, on a third and goal two-yard run at right end, scored following a kicking game blunder by the Gators. Punter Matt Leach couldn't handle a low snap as Auburn rattled the UF punt team with the threat of a blocked punt on a middle rush. Moore was still two yards shy of a touchdown after two runs prior to Butler's first Tiger touchdown with 14:55 to play as he fought through a would-be tackle to reach the end zone.

Auburn's 17-13 lead was stretched to 20-13 thanks to a big play by the defense. On Florida's first play following the kickoff, Alton Moore's pass deflection was picked off by linebacker Mayo Sowell, who put the Tigers in business at the Florida 22.

The Tigers failed to capitalize on a big opportunity when two Casinious Moore runs brought up a third and less than one situation. AU again went to the same formation that scored on the goal line, but this time Butler was stuffed for a three-yard loss at left end. Duval's 32-yard field goal put Auburn on top 20-13, but that margin quickly evaporated.

Following Duval's kickoff out of the end zone, Grossman found wideout Jabar Gaffney running free behind Roderick Hood and Stanford Simmons for an 80-yard touchdown with 12:09 left to tie the score at 20-20.

The Tigers responded with a drive inside the Florida five-yard line, but came away empty. On third and goal, Cobb scored on a quarterback draw at left guard, but the play was negated by an illegal procedure call. On the next play from the nine, Cobb couldn't find an open receiver and began to run for the end zone, however, he was stripped from behind by Alex Brown and the ball rolled into the end zone where it was recovered for a touchback by the Gators, who took over on the Tiger 20.

The Auburn defense then rose to the occasion and forced the Gators into a three and punt situation. The Tigers took over on their own 47 after a 16-yard punt return by Hood. However, three plays later, Moore fumbled on a running play and the Gators had the ball at the Auburn 47 with 5:55 to play.

The Gators were quickly on the march again, but a fourth interception by the Tiger defense, this one by sophomore whip Karlos Dansby, ended the threat and by the time the powerful Gator offense got the ball back Florida trailed by three points with time for just one more play. Grossman forced a deep ball down the sidelines while trying to avoid a pass rush from Javor Mills and Dansby returned the ball 18 yards to the Tiger 24. "That gave us some room to operate," Cobb said.

The Auburn quarterback then led Auburn on a drive that chewed up four minutes and 18 seconds, moving to a fourth and seven at the UF 27 to set the stage for the winning field goal.

The Gators returned the kickoff to the 25 and had time for just one more play. The Auburn defense stopped a wild scramble by Grossman on the final play as the Jordan-Hare Stadium clock hit zero. The celebration started with coaches, players and fans dancing with delight. The south end zone goal post was dismantled by the fans during a 20-minute postgame victory celebration.

Gator coach Steve Spurrier said, "They were tougher than us tonight and killed us on the special teams battle. It is frustrating. Rex made some great throws on this windy night, but a couple of them right down the sideline just didn't make it. We couldn't run the ball either. They really stuffed us. They were definitely the best team out there."

Auburn improved its all-time record to 40-37-2 in the series, ending a seven-game losing streak to the Gators. Auburn improved its all-time record to 3-6 in games vs. No. 1 ranked teams with the help of interceptions by Dansby, Pate, Hood and Sowell. The four picks were the most by the Tigers since getting four two years ago against LSU.

Tuberville said he was "thankful" the Tigers won the game "because of the effort they put into it."

Auburn, 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the SEC, returns to action next Saturday with a 1 p.m. homecoming game against Louisiana Tech in the final non-conference game on the 2001 schedule.

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