Tigers Win Big In Starkville

The cowbells rang unabated all night, but it wasn't enough to give MSU the win as the Tigers pull out a 42-14 victory.

Starkville, Miss.--Daniel Cobb and the Tiger offense put up points in bunches in the second and fourth quarters as the Tigers won a big one Thursday against Mississippi State.

The first quarter was a punting duel, and three-and-outs were the order of the day for both offenses. The Auburn offense started out inauspiciously in the first quarter. After a solid 16-yard run by Carnell Williams, the Tiger offense stumbled and was forced to punt just short of the 50-yard line. The defense responded and forced MSU to a quick three-and-out, but the offense wasn't able to take advantage and went three-and-out also.

The pace of the game quickly changed as key passes by MSU quarterback Kevin Fant, as well as the emergence of a previously little-used running game, led the Dawgs to their first touchdown to go up 7-0. Once Fant settled in, he was difficult for the defense to contain.

Cobb couldn't find his rhythm and missed several key passes, going 1-for-9 in Auburn's first four drives. He didn't find it until the second quarter, when he delivered a strike to Anthony Mix, who fought off two defenders for a touchdown catch to tie the game. MSU was called for pass interference on the play.

A mental error by the MSU special teams was a difference-maker in the game. MSU wasn't able to make a play on a Damon Duval punt, but failed to clear the way and the football bounced off a MSU player's ankle directly into the hands of Lamel Ages. Cobb took advantage of the critical mistake with a touchdown pass to Marcel Willis, putting Auburn up 14-7.

MSU looked like it was going to put together a good drive, but Fant let go of the football. Auburn was once again in position to take advantage of the MSU error, taking over near midfield. The Tiger offense couldn't make it happen, though, and went three-and-out with 1:42 left in the half, giving MSU an opportunity to tie it up. A bull-rush and a tackle by Spencer Johnson changed that, pushing MSU back nine yards to the Dawgs' 11-yard line. The defense followed up with a three-and-out performance, and Cobb stepped up with a 45-yard pass to Ben Obomanu, who brought it home to make the score 21-7.

Fant's first play in the second half was an option, but this time the Auburn offense was ready for it and held Fant to a four-yard gain. On the next play, Fant was swamped by Auburn jerseys as Fant was stuffed for a loss of six yards. What looked to be a likely three-and-out was not to be, however, as Fant stepped up and made a big third down pass play for just enough yardage for the first down. MSU would drive the ball all the way down the field to score, burning six and a half minutes off of the clock and wearing down the Auburn defense.

In a critical drive for the Tigers' offense, Cobb started off with a quick first-down pass to redshirt freshman Cooper Wallace. The Tigers failed to convert on third and three, though, as Cobb was sacked by an ocean of MSU players. Duval was forced to punt the ball away and put an understandably tired defense back on the field. It didn't show, though, as the defense forced a critical three-and-out to give the ball back with good field position.

Auburn got a scare in the next drive as Cobb went down and didn't get up, holding his (bruised shoulder) in obvious pain. Backup quarterback Jason Campbell came in for one play, but was unable to gain yardage on third and ten and the Tigers were forced to punt it away once again. Fortunately, Cobb was not hurt nearly as bad as it initially seemed and was back in for the next AU offensive series.

A critical third-down conversion and Fant's ability to throw the ball away when necessary were key for MSU in their next drive. The magic ran out for Fant at the end of the third quarter, though, as he was sacked on third-and-ten by Reggie Torbor. MSU was forced to punt the ball away, and Auburn got the ball back at the 33-yard line.

In the next drive, MSU focused like a laser on Carnell, and Cobb made them pay for it by faking to the sophomore tailback, who rushed for 106 yards on the day, on a third-and-three and then finding uncovered Robert Johnson for a 30-yard toss. A big catch by Marcel Willis at the 17-yard line put the Tigers in the red zone. Carnell found the end of the field to put the Tigers up with a healthy 28-14 lead with just over 10 minutes to go in the game.

A Fant fumble forced by Torbor and recovered by the defensive end helped put the game out of reach after three runs by the Cadillac with the final one from five yards out.

The icing on the cake for the game was another turnover to set up a sixth touchdown. Dontarrious Thomas fell on the loose football forced by Karlos Dansby. The Tigers moved 50 yards in nine plays with Brandon Johnson scoring on a short run at left guard with 3:04 to play.

Following an interception by redshirt freshman linebacker Travis Williams, the Tigers had another chance to score but elected to run out the clock in front of the MSU goal.


Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories