Kentucky at Auburn Game News and Notes

News, notes and quotes from Auburn's home loss to the Kentucky Wildcats are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--A missed opportunity against Arkansas the previous week taught Neiko Thorpe a lesson that paid off for a touchdown against Kentucky by the Auburn sophomore defensive back.

In the first quarter of Auburn's 21-14 loss to Kentucky Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Jake Ricks broke through to block a Wildcat field goal attempt. Thorpe scooped up the loose ball and with a couple of key blocks he stepped away from two would-be tacklers and raced 69 yards to give the Tigers an early 7-0 lead following the extra point by Wes Byrum.

Thorpe's effort was the first blocked field goal returned for a score by Auburn since 1981 when Chris Martin took one 77 yards for a touchdown against Georgia Tech. Auburn also had a blocked field goal for a touchdown against Kentucky in 1961 when John McKeever went 82 yards for a six-pointer.

"Last week we blocked one against Arkansas and I tried to scoop up the ball, but missed it," Thorpe said. "During the week, coaches told me we have to have those. When it came down to the play in this game, I was thinking I better bend my knees when I go for the ball."

Thorpe remembered seeing a couple of blue jerseys and knew he would have some blocking along the way.

One of the blocks was from senior Walter McFadden. "I just tried to shield the Kentucky player from Neiko," McFadden commented. "I didn't want to get a stupid penalty."

Thorpe's blocked field goal return didn't take the sting out of the loss to Kentucky, Auburn's second straight setback after going 5-0 to open the season.

"Coach (Gene) Chizik didn't tell us anything in the dressing room we didn't already know," Thorpe said. "We have to go back on the road (to LSU) and can't let anything stop us. He said it's going to get tougher from here on out. We just have to work together and play Auburn football."

In notes and news from the Kentucky game:

*The Tigers played in the coldest conditions of the season. Temperature at kickoff was 48 degrees with wind north-northwest at 14 mph.

*Junior defensive end Antoine Carter made his first start of the season after battling injuries that sidelined him early in the season. He started ahead of junior Michael Goggans who had started Auburn's first six games at right defensive end.

*Auburn captains were Chris Todd, Antonio Coleman and Walter McFadden. The Tigers won the toss and chose to receive.

*Eltoro Freeman, who didn't make the trip to Arkansas the previous week, made his first appearance against the Wildcats on the kickoff coverage team. Kickoff coverage was his only action of the game.

*Ben Tate's 132 yards rushing against Kentucky gives him 10 career 100-yard rushing games, including five this season. Tate has rushed for more than 100 yards in all four of the Tigers' SEC contests this year. His 31 carries against Kentucky is a new career high for carries in a single game, eclipsing 27 carries by Tate in the 2008 Vanderbilt game.

*Tate moved past Ronnie Brown (2000-04), Brent Fullwood (1983-86) and Stephen Davis (1993-95) for fifth place on Auburn's career rushing year. Tate now has 2,815 yards rushing in his Auburn career. Ironically, Brown and his Miami Dolphin teammate, Reggie Torbor, were introduced during the AU-Kentucky game. After defeating the New York Jets on Monday night football when Brown scored with six seconds left, the Dolphins had a bye week which allowed the former Tigers to be at Saturday's contest. Torbor finished at Auburn in 2003 and Brown in 2004 when the Tigers were 13-0.

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