Tigers Stink It Up In Home Finale

Auburn, Ala.--On a day when the Tigers had a chance to clinch the SEC West title, complete the home schedule undefeated and take a second straight victory over their archrival, they played a stinker of a football game on Saturday at Jordan-Hare.

In Alabama's 31-7 victory, the Tiger offense was as ugly as the weather was beautiful and the AU defense was even worse. With Andrew Zow carving up the Tiger secondary like he was preparing an early Thanksgiving dinner, that opened the running lanes for Santonio Beard and Ahmaad Galloway. Beard carried the football 20 times for 199 yards and two touchdowns. Galloway was almost as impressive with 14 runs for 127 yards.

After opening the game with a promising drive that went sour--very, very sour--the Tiger offense was unable to get much done. Although Damon Duval's missed 42-yard field goal hurt, the biggest pain was a shoulder injury to freshman Carnell Williams that will keep him off the field until either the SEC Championship or the bowl game, AU coach Tommy Tuberville said. Williams suffered a broken right clavicle.

To return to the SEC Championship Game, Auburn must win at LSU in two weeks. "We have sure made it hard on ourselves," said senior offensive tackle Kendall Simmons, who was obviously disgusted by losing his final game at Jordan-Hare Stadium and seeing his team's 12-game home winning streak snapped.

Tuberville said that Zow's strong passing was a big factor in the game and said that Tide coach Dennis Franchione is going to have to answer questions why he has been on the bench behind Tyler Watts, who was injured and did not play. Franchione said, "He played an excellent game, had good throws and played with the poise you expect out of a senior."

Auburn won the opening toss and drove into Tide territory with Williams the feature back. He ran the ball five times for 39 yards before being lost for the game and the season with a broken right clavicle.

The Tigers moved to a first and 10 at the 20 on an 18-yard pass from Daniel Cobb to Deandre Green. From there two Ronnie Brown runs netted just a yard and Cobb was sacked for a six-yard loss. Damon Duval then pushed a 42-yard field goal try wide right.

Alabama responded with a drive aided by the first of two questionable third down pass interference calls in the opening half. On the 10th play, Neal Thomas was sent in for a 38-yard field goal. The low kick never had a chance and was blocked by Dontarrious Thomas.

Alabama got the scoring started on its next possession after the Tigers had a three and out. The 12-play drive covered 88 yards and was kept alive by another questionable third down pass interference. The touchdown run came from eight yards out on a first down when Santonio Beard took a handoff from Zow on a delay, found a hole in the middle and then cut outside for the touchdown. That made the score 7-0 with 5:25 left in the second quarter.

It didn't take the Tigers long to match that touchdown. Tim Carter raced 43 yards with the kickoff return to give the Tigers great field position at the Bama 49. On the next play, Cobb hit Robert Johnson on a 27-yard pass play. A swing pass to Brown put the Tigers first and goal at the five. After getting nothing up the middle on first down, Brown followed a block by fullback Brandon Johnson and scored at right tackle. Duval's PAT tied the game with 2:56 left in the half.

Alabama quickly regained the lead with an aggressive drive. The big play was a 45-yard pass from Zow to Jason McAddley, who was uncovered in the middle of the field. Zow got the ball off just before the Auburn rush got to him and Alabama led 14-7 with 45 seconds left in the half.

The second half went from bad to ugly for the Tigers and it happened quickly. The Tide got the ball to start the half and on the first play Freddie Milons caught a 33-yard pass over Roderick Hood and the next play Beard found a big hole and raced 53 yards for a TD a 21-7 Tide lead.

Two Auburn possessions later, the Tigers moved the ball from their own 25 to a first and 10 at the Alabama 25. A first down sack for a 13-yard loss killed the momentum. "That play really hurt us," said offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. With the Tigers facing a fourth and 25 at the 40, Tuberville decided not to risk a 57-yard field goal and pinned the Tide at the eight with a 33-yard punt. However, 13 plays later, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Zoe threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Terry Jones, Jr., for a TD and a 28-7 lead.

Bama added a 26-yard field goal to make the game 31-7 with 11:27. Jason Campbell then got the call at quarterback and drove the Tigers from the Auburn 32 to the Tide six, but the drive self-destructed when his lateral pass was recovered by Reggie Myles at the Tide 26.

"We were hoping to get this thing into the fourth quarter, but obviously we didn't get it that far," Tuberville said. "We didn't tackle very well. I thought they had a good game. Obviously, Coach Fran will have to answer a few questions about how come he hasn't played Zow all year because he looked pretty good. And we knew he could throw the football and he kept us off balance.

"Offensively, we just didn't block. That is what it basically all came down to. This football team will bounce back. We still have a chance to win the conference two weeks from tonight. It will take a while to get over this one. Obviously, this is our biggest game of the year. It is just frustrating when you don't play well at home and give ourselves a chance. They did play a good ball game and we didn't. Now we go back to work to try to figure out what happened and get ready for a good LSU team."


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