FOUR! Tigers Tee Off On Tide Offense

Auburn's defense sacks Tide quarterback Brodie Croyle 11 times on the way to a 28-18 football victory.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn defensive line teed off on the Tide offensive line early and often as the Tigers won their fourth straight Iron Bowl showdown versus their archrival, taking a 28-18 victory on Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

On a day a former defensive end was honored in pre-game ceremonies as the field was officially named after former Tiger coach Pat Dye, the Tiger defensive ends led the assault on the visitors that an old D-lineman could love.

Auburn finished the game with 11 sacks, including 3 1/2 from Stanley McClover, The Predator, who had been limited earlier in the season by injuries.

"Man, it feels great to be full speed out there and having fun again," McClover said.

Fellow defensive end Quentin Groves had 1 1/2 sacks and Marquis Gunn added one.

"That was the best game our defensive line has played since I have been here," said Gunn, a junior from Alex City.

Senior noseguard Tommy Jackson added a pair of tackles and celebrated the four-year sweep of Auburn's archrival with screams of joy and an acrobatic postgame tumbling exhibition.

"This is a great way to finish my career at home," the defensive lineman said. "I am so proud of those guys on defense."

Stanley McClover and Antarrious Williams celebrate and Auburn sack.

So were their position coaches, Don Dunn and Terry Price, who were singled out for postgame praise by Tommy Tuberville.

"All of that hard work our kids did paid off out their tonight," Dunn said. "All of that pushing in the hot sun made a difference in a game like this. I couldn't be prouder of our guys."

On a night for the seniors to celebrate the first four-year sweep of the Tide since 1986-89 when Dye was head coach, it was fitting a senior led the defense in tackles with 11. Travis Williams had nine solo stops, two assists and one 1 1/2 sacks.

Another senior linebacker, Antarrious Williams, was next with seven tackles and he had a pair of sacks on blitzes, something the Tigers didn't have to do much of as Tuberville pointed out. The head coach noted that most of the pressure came against the Tide with a four-man rush.

McClover added six tackles and the starting cornerbacks had a strong night in pass coverage and run support. David Irons had five stops and Jonathan Wilhite did, too.

The Auburn defense held Alabama to 188 yards of total offense, but most of that came long after the game was decided. Going into the fourth quarter, the Tide had netted just 52 yards.

Offensively, Brandon Cox had the hot hand in the first half in leading the Tigers to four touchdowns. Kenny Irons had his sixth straight 100-yard rushing game with 103 on 28 carries. For the game, the Tigers had just 257 yards of total offense, but that was more than enough for the victory.

Auburn must now hope that LSU loses one of its final two games for the Tigers to go the SEC Championship Game, but they did clinch a tie for the divisional title.

"Four in a row (vs. Alabama) and five SEC Western Division Championships in six years," said Tuberville, who lobbied for a BCS bowl trip in the postgame locker room even if Auburn can't compete for the SEC champ's spot in the Sugar Bowl.

The Tigers won the toss and deferred, kicking off to the Tide, which started at its 17. A quick three and out that included sacks by Wayne Dickens and Groves forced a punt that gave the Tigers great field position at the Tide 40. Six plays later the Tigers were on top 7-0.

Kenny Irons started the drive with a one-yard gain and Cox hit fullback Jake Slaughter in the flat for a 14-yard gain. Irons ran for one on the next play, Cooper Wallace caught a five-yard pass that included a late hit penalty as Cox was hit after he threw the ball. That gave the Tigers a first down at the 11.

Irons then ran for four at left end setting up a seven-yard TD pass to Ben Obomanu. Cox faked a run to the right, rolled left and hit his receiver in the end zone who jumped high to make the catch. The PAT put the Tigers up 7-0 with 10:05 left in the first quarter.

The Tide couldn't move on its second possession after starting at its own 10 after a facemask penalty on the kickoff. A rush for a yard and two incomplete passes forced a punt with the Tigers taking over at the Tide 32 after Jeremy Schatz's punt went just 23 yards after being pressured by the punt rush.

Irons ran for two yards on the next play before Cox hit Courtney Taylor on a 21-yard pass play to give the Tigers first and goal at the Tide eight. Irons then ran through a large hole at left guard and scored, but not before some drama on whether he crossed the goal line before he lost the football. A review of the play showed it was a touchdown and Auburn led 14-0 with 7:24 left in the first quarter.

The Tide started the next possession from its 25, but went backwards from there. T.J. Jackson and Groves got another sack on third and 15 to force a punt from the 12-yard line.

Auburn took over at the Bama 45 and quickly went to work again. Cox hit Wallace for six yards, Tristan Davis was caught for a two-yard loss on his first play at tailback since the Kentucky game. The Tigers then converted the third down on a six-yard pass to Obomanu.

On the next play, Obomanu got the ball on a reverse and raced around right end and sprinted toward his second touchdown of the game. He cut back toward midfield and was untouched on the play. With the PAT kick the Tigers led 21-0 with 4:01 left in the first half. That matched the high points total the Tide defense had allowed all season.

After another three and out that included a sack by Antarrious Williams, the Tigers had good field position again at the Tide 41. However, on the next play Prechae Rodriguez was stripped of the football on a short pass play and the Tide took over at its own 37.

Although Bama had yet to gain a first down, the turnover changed the momentum and the Tide 63 yards on nine plays for the score. Tim Castille got the TD from a yard out at left tackle with 13:33 left in the second quarter.

The Auburn defense regained its composure the rest of the first half and held the Tide to just 43 net yards in the first two quarters. Meanwhile, the Auburn offense had another drive in it before intermission.

The Tigers moved 61 yards on eight plays to stretch their margin to 28-7 with 2:07 before intermission. Cole Bennett scored on a first down bootleg pass from Cox, who was 13-15 passing for 120 yards in the half. The touchdown play was a five-yarder.

The scoring drive started with an 11-yard run by Irons followed by a one-yard run and a four-yard pass to Wallace. Cox then converted a third down with a 19-yarder over the middle to Anthony Mix, who went over 1,000 career receiving yards on the play.

The Tigers then got an ineligible receiver penalty, a sack on Cox for a three-yard loss and a nine-yard pass to Taylor. On third and 10, Cox rifled a pass over the middle to Devin Aromashodu for a first down at the Tide five, setting up the touchdown pass to Bennett.

The Tigers got off to a slow start in the third quarter. A three and out for the offense was followed by a 33-yard punt return by Brandon Brooks, putting the Tide in business at the Tiger 34. However, one running first down the AU defense sent the Tide in reverse. A third down sack by Stanley McClover forced the Tide to settle for a 43-yard field goal by Jamie Christensen with 10:12 on the clock.

After the defenses controlled the rest of the third quarter, Auburn had a chance to match that field goal at the 12:51 mark of the third fourth quarter, but John Vaughn's field goal try was wide left.

Auburn didn't score again, but the Tide got a generously spotted touchdown with 23 seconds when officials ruled that backup quarterback John Parker Wilson got the ball into the end zone on a sneak before his knee hit the ground. A two-point pass to D.J. Hall made the final score look more respectable, but on this day at Jordan-Hare Stadium the result wasn't in doubt after the Tigers took the whip hand in the first half.


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