Clutch Plays Provide "Big" Victory For Auburn

Defending national champion LSU didn't go down without a fight on Saturday as Auburn ended the visitors' 10-game winning streak.

Auburn, Ala.--Jason Campbell was battered by a big, mean and physical LSU defense, but wasn't beaten as he came through in the clutch with a clutch fourth down and 12 to go do or die pass to Courtney Taylor.

The 14-yard completion kept hope alive for the Tigers, who had spent way too much time in the red zone all game with only three points on the scoreboard to show for it.

A play later from the LSU 14, Carnell Williams was cut down for a three-yard loss. Then offensive coordinator Al Borges called a play that he said he likes against zone coverage, which he figured LSU would be using on the play.

The call worked like a dream and Campbell hooked up again with Taylor for the first college touchdown reception for the sophomore from Carrollton. That tied the game and set off a celebration that shook Jordan-Hare Stadium like it hasn't been shaken in many years.

However, what had become the almost automatic extra point for the Tigers (190 straight before the final kick) provided more drama than most anyone would have imagined before the Tigers took a 10-9 lead. On the first try, the snap from redshirt freshman Pete Compton bounced to holder Sam Rives, which threw off the timing and caused John Vaughn to pull the kick wide.

However, LSU had illegally jumped in the air and landed on the center, a personal foul call due to a new rule adopted this season, and Vaughn and the Tigers got a do-over. This time, despite a one-hop snap to Rives, the kick was good and Auburn had to protect a one-point lead for 1:14 to defeat the defending national champs and snap LSU's 10-game winning streak.

After Tre Smith made a nice tackle on the kickoff, LSU redshirt freshman QB JaMarcus Russell and his offense got the ball at the 13 with two timeouts and a stiff wind blowing in their face. That meant a long field goal to win was highly unlikely.

LSU managed to move the ball to midfield, but senior safety Junior Rosegreen sealed the victory by intercepting a pass thrown over the middle to set up a long and spirited celebration on the field, in the stands and in the Auburn locker room.

"I told everyone to keep their composure and go all out on that last play," Campbell noted when asked what he told his offensive teammates before converting the fourth-down pass. "I told Courtney to get far enough beyond the pylon so we were sure there would be enough for the first down."

Campbell noted that he lined up deeper than normal to give him extra time and rolled right to avoid the rush. He was smacked as he threw the football and didn't see the catch, but he knew what happened. "The crowd roar told me we made the first down," he said.

"You know you are going to get hit," Campbell said. "They are coming from everywhere and you know you can't pick everyone up. It is just a matter of standing in there and fighting until the end of the game."

Campbell completed 16-27 passes for 170 yards for the game in which both sides had to battle for every inch in the defensive struggle.

Offensive tackle Marcus McNeill said that Campbell stayed cool when the heat was on. "He was real calm in the huddle," the junior said. "He said just give us protection and we will move the ball. We took it on ourselves as an offensive line to give him the best protection possible."

On the touchdown pass, the quarterback had plenty of time to throw. However, that wouldn't have happened without his clutch fourth down pass completion that excited offensive coordinator Al Borges. "That wasn't the play call, it was the players coming through," Borges said. "I am just so proud of them."

Courtney Taylor takes a quiet moment after scoring the game winning touchdown against LSU.

Campbell, the fifth-year senior, knows that his team has a long way to go to reach its goal of an SEC Championship after moving to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the conference. "Hopefully, we are on the right road with this victory," Campbell said. "We got great leadership out there today. We just have to keep taking them one game and one week at a time because we still have some more tough ones coming up."

Borges said he loved the intensity of his first SEC game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. "It was absolutely great," he noted. "I have never been in an atmosphere this intense."

Coach Tommy Tuberville, who celebrated his 50th birthday with the victory, said that he played the game conservatively because going into the contest he expected it would be an old-fashioned defensive struggle with field position and turnovers determining the winner.

Tuberville said the winning drive and overall team victory in an intensely played game made Saturday's game special. "We needed this win," he said. "We went out and hustled and good things happened. It was really fitting for the wide receivers to have such key catches since they have dropped a few passes this year. Everyone played well and it is a team win."

A record crowd of 87,451 obviously got the news that there was no cancellation of the game due to the effects of tropical storm Ivan that played havoc with Auburn's preparation for the contest. The crowd at newly expanded Jordan-Hare Stadium was greeted by blue skies on a windy Saturday. The field was fast and dry.

LSU quarterback Marcus Randall, who had a terrible performance in his first trip to Auburn two years ago, got the starting nod and led the visitors to an impressive 80-yard scoring march to open the game.

Randall got the drive going with runs of five and eight yards. He hit passes of 19 and five yards to put the Bayou Bengals into scoring position. On first and goal from the nine, following an illegal procedure penalty, he hit wide receiver Dwayne Bowe deep in the middle of the end zone for a nine-yard TD pass. However, following the 14-play drive that ate up 8:23 on the clock Ryan Gaudet missed the PAT leaving LSU ahead 6-0.

Auburn tried to answer that score and got halfway there on its first possession. Campbell hit a 17-yard pass over the middle to Taylor to convert a third and 10 to get the drive started. Another pass to Taylor for eight yards moved the Tigers to a first and goal at the LSU 11.

However, the drive stalled there after Williams ran for five yards on first down, one on second and a blitz sacked Campbell for a seven yard loss. The Tigers settled for three points on a 29-yard field goal by Vaughn as Rives made a nice hold on a high snap from Compton.

Auburn's drive chewed up nearly seven minutes. LSU got the ball back and put together a second long drive. This time redshirt freshman Russell was the quarterback. LSU's second possession moved the ball 55 yards on eight plays before Rosegreen's coverage on a third down pass to Bowe forced a field goal. Kicking with a strong wind at his back, Chris Jackson hit a line drive 42-yard field goal to make the lead 9-3 with 13:48 left in the half.

The Auburn defense forced three and outs the next two possessions for LSU, but the offense couldn't put any more points on the scoreboard. Penalties were a killer for the Tigers with four for 45 yards in the first half that ended with LSU holding a six-point edge and a 156-151 lead in total yardage.

The yardage was dead even at 232-232 after a scoreless third quarter in which the Tigers couldn't take advantage of the first LSU turnover when defensive end Stanley McClover hit quarterback Marcus Randall and forced a fumble. T.J. Jackson recovered it at the LSU 42.

Auburn faced a fourth and three into a stiff wind and Tuberville decided to punt the football although the crowd chanted to go. Kody Bliss, who had been practicing his rugby style punt in recent weeks, did it perfectly by pinning the Bayou Bengals at their own five.

Tuberville's strategy didn't work when LSU got off the goal line with a nine-play possession before the Tigers took over at their own 29.

Auburn then moved the ball 69 yards to the LSU 10 with tight end Cooper Wallace catching passes of 30 and and 12 yards.

On second and nine at the LSU 10, Ronnie Brown rolled left on a halfback pass. LSU covered the play and Brown cut up field and ran into the end zone. However, he was ruled out of bounds at the LSU three. The Tigers tried two passes, but the LSU defense gave Campbell nobody to throw to and the drive stalled their with two incompletions.

Tuberville said he never considered a field goal in that situation because he believed the Tigers were going to have to score a TD to win.

Auburn looked like it would get the ball back in good field position after holding LSU and forcing a punt. However, Williams fumbled the attempt on a punt catch and LSU recovered at its own 45. The AU defense allowed two first downs, but made a stand with the help of two LSU penalties.

Two possessions later, Auburn got the ball back with 5:37 left at its own 40 for the do-or-die drive. A 25-yard run by Brown got it going. Campbell converted a third and one by keeping the ball for four yards on an option play to set up the late fireworks.

Auburn defensive coordinator Gene Chizik said he loved his group's intensity and said he thought they grew up on Saturday. "I am so proud of these guys for fighting," Chizik said. "We had to make some adjustments after the first quarter. Our kids stayed in the game and stayed focused. They carried out the plan as good as I could have asked them. I thought today we defined ourselves.

"We were playing a little too much man coverage and trying to do some combination type man things and they were basically beating the coverage. It was nothing on the kids. It was on the coverage. We had to adjust to it. They did that and after the first couple of series of uneasiness, we fell back in what we need to be and what we are."

Chizik said what the defense is right now is a group of players working together as a unit with no concern on who gets the credit.

LSU head coach Nick Saban said, "We had opportunities to make it a two-score game, but we did not do it. That cost us. We controlled the line of scrimmage at times, but every time they needed to make a defensive stop they seemed to be able to make the play the needed."

Chizik added, "We have made a lot of strides. I really wasn't sure what we were after the first two games. We beat a good football team today. With the exception of a few errors we will get wrinkled out, I thought we played very sound defense. This defense is playing as a team. There is no me. There is no I. Anybody could have got that interception. Anybody could have got that fumble. It is all about team defense. I told them if they will play in the system and nobody cares who gets the credit, we will be a team on defense."

Auburn returns to action next Saturday with a 1:30 p.m. home contest vs. The Citadel while LSU returns to the SEC to play Mississippi State.

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