Interceptions Burn Tigers in Loss at Ole Miss

A game report on Auburn's 17-7 SEC football loss to Ole Miss is featured.

Oxford, Miss.--Auburn's struggling offense managed to produce 394 yards on Saturday, but three costly interceptions were deadly to the Tigers as they dropped a fourth straight game, falling 17-7 to Ole Miss on Saturday.

In contrast, the Rebels didn't make a turnover. In games they had lost this year, the now 5-4 Rebels (3-3 in the SEC) had three or more turnovers.

The most costly turnover for Auburn came early in the fourth quarter with the Tigers trailing 10-7. Auburn had moved from its own 28 after a missed field goal and quickly moved into scoring territory with the help of a 42-yard pass play from Kodi Burns to Chris Slaughter to the Ole Miss 17.

On third and 12 from the 19, Auburn called a timeout to get in the play the Tigers wanted after seeing how Ole Miss lined up with three safeties around the five-yard line.

Head coach Tommy Tuberville said Burns was told to be careful with his throw and make sure his man was open so the Tigers would have a shot at a field goal to at least tie the game. However, the sophomore overthrew a pass that was picked off by Marshay Green at the seven. He returned it to the Ole Miss 34, setting up a 12-play drive touchdown that put the Rebels up 17-7 with 6:45 left. Auburn never recovered from that miscue.

"We had the guy open, he just overthrew," Tuberville said of the interception. "He threw it off his back foot and the ball sailed on him a little bit."

For the game, Burns completed 27-43 passes for 319 yards. Auburn struggled to run the ball, netting 75 yards on 25 running plays.

"We put the ball in his hands more today than we did last week in making plays," Tuberville said of Burns. "I thought at times he was able to do it, but sometimes he wasn't.

"The first half we didn't give him a lot of protection," Tuberville added. "That running game wasn't there. You have got to slow them down a little bit. You have give him an opportunity to run play-action pass. We threw from the shotgun more in the first half and then we threw a little more play-action in the second half and had a little bit better running game, which gives your quarterback a chance."

With the loss, Auburn dropped to 4-5 overall this season and 2-4 in the SEC.

The first quarter was a defensive struggle with each team managing just two first downs. The Tigers gained just 28 yards on 14 plays and the Rebels netted 68 yards on 16 plays.

Ole Miss broke the scoring drought with 5:07 left in the first half on a 34-yard field goal by Joshua Shene to finish a nine-play drive that covered 47 yards. The big play of the possession was a 20-yard run by Brandon Bolden on a second down and 13 from from the Ole Miss 46.

The Rebels managed to put the visitors in a bigger hole just before intermission by driving 86 yards in nine plays. Jevan Snead threw a two-yard pass to Shay Hodge with 38 seconds on a drive that took just one minute and 26 seconds to execute.

The big play of the drive was a 28-yard run by Dexter McCluster on third and 10 from the 50.

At intermission, Auburn's offense had shown no muscle with just 80 yards on 30 plays while the Rebels had netted 206 yards on 36 plays.

Auburn moved the ball much better in the third quarter starting with the first possession.

Tigers got the second half started on a 37-yard pass to Slaughter. Burns then made a play with his feet on a 15-yard gainer to the Ole Miss 27. On the next play Ben Tate found a big hole at left guard and ran untouched for a touchdown from 27 yards out.

Montez Billings picks up Ben Tate after the tailback scored vs. the Rebels.

However, the other scoring opportunities ended in frustration for the Tigers, including what looked to be Auburn's last chance when the Tigers moved from their 20 to the Ole Miss 35 after the Rebels went up 17-7. On second at two, Burns was intercepted at the Ole Miss eight with 3:50 left.

However, on the next play, freshman cornerback D'Antoine Hood, making his first start filling in for injured Jerraud Powers, plucked a Cordera Eason fumble out of the air and ran it to the Ole Miss 21. However, the play was reviewed and the ball was given back to the Rebels overturning the call on the field.

Powers made the trip, but was a no-go with his hamstring problem. Wide receiver Rod Smith left the game early with a hip pointer. His backup, Chris Slaughter, had the best game of any Tiger on offense with eight catches for 131 yards.

Tuberville said, "You are going to have years like this. You have to take the wins, you have to take the losses and you have got to go on. There are going to be there for all teams. You look at all teams across country. Everybody has a bad year every once in a while.

"This team is not playing for me," Tuberville said, responding to a question about whether or not the Tigers felt pressured to win for their coach. "I don't want them to play for me. I want them to play for them and Auburn. That is what it is all about."

Commenting on likely being shutout of the bowl scene this year, Tuberville said, "We can't really worry about a bowl. We have just got to worry about winning games. I am tired of going into that locker and these kids, you know, have their heads down and played hard, and nothing good has happened to them."

The Tigers return to action next week with a 1:30 p.m. Homecoming game kickoff vs. UT-Martin.

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