Happy Tigers Run Through Bulldog Defense

Ronnie Brown, Carnell Williams and other Tigers discuss their big day in Starkville.

Starkville, Miss.--Ronnie Brown, wearing a smile bright enough to light up the dark side of the moon, basked in the afterglow of an impressive performance by his team and the senior running back.

Brown rocked the Mississippi State Bulldogs with 147 yards on just 15 carries and his friend Carnell Williams chipped in with 122 more and two touchdowns on 19 runs.

With the senior tailbacks leading the way, the Tigers ran to a 43-14 victory in their SEC opener on Saturday before 51,021 fans at Scott Field on Saturday.

"It was exciting to have a big day like that," Brown said. "It feels great. It is tremendous to have two people who play the same position have such big games.

"The offensive line did a great job for us," Brown added. "They came out focused. They corrected their mistakes from last week and we moved the ball well and had a lot of fun." Auburn improved to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the SEC while the Bulldogs fell to 1-1 overall and 0-1 for new head coach Sylvester Croom.

Williams also had high praise for the offensive line as Auburn rushed for 310 yards at an average of 6.9 yards per carry against what Tommy Tuberville described as a big and physical defensive front and athletic linebackers.

"Those guys (the offensive line) wanted to run the ball right from the jump," Williams said. "They didn't play as well as they wanted the first game and they came out and redeemed themselves. They get an A-Plus from me."

One disappointment was the defense allowed to late touchdowns with the reserves in the game. However, Tuberville gave the first team defense credit for shutout type of performance. The Bulldogs only had 164 total yards after three quarters and finished with 271 with much of it done vs. the second and third stringers. Auburn finished the day with 465 yards.

Anthony Mix caught two TD passes.

Another area that needs work is the passing game. The Tigers caught 13 balls for 182 yards and four TDs, but had around a half dozen other balls that could have been caught. "That is something that I will be working with the receivers on in practice this week as we get ready for LSU," said Jason Campbell, who improved his record to 4-0 vs. MSU, where his brother Larry played linebacker.

Campbell had 40 family members and friends at the game to cheer him on. "This win was special for me to make it 4-0," he said. "I won't ever have to hear anybody from Mississippi State say they beat me."

Two of the touchdown catches were to Anthony Mix, who caught three balls for 76 yards. "I don't know what it is about this place, but I like it," said Mix, who had a big game here two seasons ago.

Mix said his first TD pass came on a checkoff from Campbell, who spotted man to man coverage on the big slot receiver. "When I saw Jason make the check I knew we had a great chance to score," Mix said.

Mississippi State never seriously threatened to gain the momentum in the conference opener. Bulldog defensive lineman Willie Evans said he was impressed with the Cadillac and Brown. "Great running backs make great plays," he said. "They are both great athletes and you have to respect them on the field."

The first play of the game set the tone for the opening quarter as Brown ran for 13 yards to start an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive. The Tigers ran the ball seven times with Brown and the Cadillac carrying the ball.

The touchdown came on a five-yard slant pass to Anthony Mix with 10:08 left on the clock.

After a three and out for the Bulldogs on their first offensive possession, Auburn again used its running attack to drive for a touchdown. This series, which featured seven runs and two passes, was completed by Carnell Williams who scored up the middle on first and goal.

The Bulldogs managed a first down on their second possession, but never seriously threatened to score in the opening half.

The Tigers got the only points of the second quarter when they raced 93 yards on just five plays. Brown got Auburn off the goal line with a 59-yard run as Campbell changed the play at the line of scrimmage. The senior quarterback threw a 25-yard pass to junior Ben Obomanu on a delay route and the receiver was untouched on his way to the end zone. Campbell took a shot after he released the ball, but was back the next series.

At halftime, the Tigers held a 234-116 lead in total yardage. The Tigers rushed for 195 yards on 23 carries with Brown netting 112 yards on just eight carries. Williams had 95 yards on 12 carries.

At the break, the Tigers were 4-10 passing for 39 yards. State got most of its yardage in the air. The Bulldogs gained just 11 yards on carries. Conner carried the home team as he completed 14-17 passes for 105 yards.

In the third quarter, the Tigers stretched the lead to 28-0 by driving 63 yards on nine plays. Williams ran over a would-be tackler for the three-yard TD with 6:41 left in the quarter.

Mix then ran over a significant portion of the secondary for the next score, a 58-yard pass over the middle from Campbell to make the score 35-0 with 26 seconds left in the third quarter.

"I don't know how I got by all of them," Mix said of the third down play. "I saw a lot of maroon jerseys. They hit me, but I just kept running."

The reserves got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter as Ben Obomanu caught a seven-yard pass from Brandon Cox with 11:24 left to cap a seven-play, 76-yard march. Sam Rives, the holder, ran in for two points after a high snap.

Jason Husband caught two late TD passes vs. the Auburn reserves. One came with 1:23 left and the second came with 15 seconds left after MSU recovered a fumble by Cox.

Tuberville said the key to victory was the play in the trenches, particularly the offensive front. He noted that a physical week of practice made a positive difference.

Senior center Jeremy Ingle said, "We had a real good time out there today. It was a big improvement from week one to week two."

Auburn returns to action at home next Saturday in an SEC showdown vs. LSU.

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