After struggling early on defense, the Tigers improved on that side of the ball to give Tommy Tuberville's team plenty of opportunities to win.
After really struggling early on offense early, the Tigers managed to finish the night with 392 yards of offense and plenty of opportunities to score more than two touchdowns. However, four interceptions and a fumble by quarterback Brandon Cox, who was making his first college start, proved to be too much to overcome.
The Tigers didn't help their cause with 11 penalties, many coming at inopportune times.
Tuberville noted that it was a frustrating evening as his team's winning streak was snapped at 15. "Little things," he said combined to beat the Tigers. "You have got to concentrate better. We lost our focus.
"You can't lose your focus like that," Tuberville added. "We were trailing the whole night and we were trying hard, trying hard to get back into it and it looked like we were trying too hard. There was a time there we had pretty much control of the game. We were still behind and we were moving it consistently and playing better defense, but we couldn't get over the hump."
Tuberville predicted that Auburn will have a "heck of a football team" this year. "We just ran into a team tonight that executed better than us and gave us some problem and took advantage of a young guy back in the backfield and made us make mistakes."
Cox said he wasn't nervous in his first start at soldout Jordan-Hare Stadium on national TV, but said there was plenty of room for improvement. "I did a lot of things good and had a few mistakes. You can't have turnovers. I was saying (before the game) long as I don't mistakes we win the game. I made mistakes, but we have to learn from that and become a better team from it."
Cox threw the ball 44 times vs. the Yellow Jackets and completed 22 for 342 yards, but the four interceptions and late fumble were too much to overcome.
Montae Pitts covers the dangerous Calvin Johnson late in the contest. Johnson had four catches for 66 yards and one touchdown.
Auburn's running game wasn't consistent either. The Tigers netted just 50 yards on 23 carries with Cox being caught for 31 yards in losses vs. Tech's aggressive, blitzing defense. Tre Smith had 13 carries for 51 yards to lead the Tigers. The three tailbacks combined for just 19 carries with Carl Stewart having five for 24 and Kenny Irons one for six yards.
With the help of his veteran receivers, the sophomore QB tried to rally the home team. Ben Obomanu had six catches for 90 yards and one TD while Courtney Taylor made six catches for 80. Devin Aromashodu had three catches for 62 yards and one TD
Reggie Ball didn't have particularly impressive stats, but the Tech quarterback made big plays when he needed to and threw just one interception as he completed 17-36 passes for 174 yards and one score. He also rushed for 18 more yards.
Big back P. J. Daniels led all rushers for 111 yards on 23 carries with one touchdown.
Auburn got off to a sluggish start, much to the dismay of a crowd that arrived in a festive mood eager to get a first look at their 2005 Tigers.
Ball came out throwing and led the visitors to a quick 7-0 lead.
A 35-yard pass lobbed to Calvin Johnson at the goal line put the Yellow Jackets on top. Ball hit three of five passes on the seven-play drive and ran for 11 yards.
AU's offensive start was as poor as Tech's was good. Tre Smith was trapped for a three-yard loss, Brandon Cox threw two incomplete passes and AU had to punt for the first of four times in the opening half.
Auburn's left-handed quarterback didn't finally connect on one of his passes until Auburn's fourth possession when Smith raced 33 yards with a screen pass on the last play of the opening quarter. By that time the Tigers were down 10-0 as Tech scored on its second possession.
Georgia Tech put together a 12-play drive that covered 62 yards to set up a 35-yard field goal by Travis Bell with 5:29 left in the opening quarter.
The Tigers took advantage of that play to get on the scoreboard. Cox found one of his talented senior receivers, Devin Aromashodu, in one-on-one coverage. Aromashodu caught the sideline route, broke a tackle and ran in for a score on a 39-yard play. That cut the lead to 10-7 with 14:17 left in the second quarter.
The Tigers had a chance to go ahead on their next possession, but a TD pass to Courtney Taylor was called back by a holding call from the ACC officiating crew. Tech got out of trouble by sacking Cox two plays later to put AU out of field goal range.
The Yellow Jackets then drove 77 yards on 12 plays to stretch the lead to 17-7 with P.J. Daniels doing the heavy work. The running back carried the ball seven times for 48 yards including a two-yard run at left guard for the score.
AU had just 1:48 and no timeouts after a short kickoff was returned by Quentin Groves to the AU 39.
Cox hit Obomanu for 14 yards, Anthony Mix for 17 and Obomanu for 15 more. Obomanu appeared to run out of bounds, but the ACC crew started the clock, much to the confusion of Cox who didn't run a play as Tech called a timeout.
Two plays later, Cox found Obomanu in single coverage, the senior beat the defender and scored on a 15-yard play with 41 seconds in the half to cut the margin to 17-14.
The first turnover of the night ended a drive that moved the Tigers deep into Tech territory. On a third and six pass, Cox tried to hit Obomanu in front of the goal line, but safety Dawan Landry made the pick and returned the ball to the Tech 15 with 2:47 left in the third period.
Tech countered by moving the football into Auburn territory. However, that drive was stopped by an interception by cornerback Montae Pitts at the AU 12 with 14:26 left in the fourth quarter. However, Tech got the ball back at the Tiger 18 when linebacker Phillip Wheeler picked off an errant Cox pass intended for Wallace.
Auburn escaped the miscue with just a field goal as Bell hit a 21-yarder on fourth and goal at the four after Patrick Lee prevented Johnson from catching a fade route from Ball. The kick put the visitors up 20-14 with 10:16 left.
On the next possession, AU quickly moved the ball into Tech territory with the running game, but an illegal procedure produced a first and 15 and a passing situation. Cox's arm was hit by defensive lineman Joe Anoai and the ball was picked off by linebacker KaMichael Hall.
Compounding the situation were a 15-yard face mask penalty and 15-yard dead ball foul. That put Tech in business at the Tiger 36, but the Yellow Jackets couldn't move and punted the ball dead at the AU eight with 5:57 remaining.
AU still had a great opportunity to pull out a late victory as the Tigers drove the ball into Tech territory, but two miscues put a monkey wrench into the works. Cox was hit as he tried to pass and fumbled, but Tre Smith got the loose football. Two plays later linebacker Gerris Wilkinson ended the threat with an interception.
Tech cashed in the turnover with three points on a 28-yard field goal with 1:32 left. AU's last gasp ended with 29 seconds left when a scrambling Cox lost a fumble at the AU 42 and Tech was able to run out the clock and celebrate a sweep of the two-game series vs. the Tigers.
The Tigers open SEC play next Saturday vs. visiting Mississippi State. The game will kick off at 11:30 a.m.