An Instant Classic: Tigers 31, Bulldogs 30

Comments from players and coaches are featured after Auburn's victory in Athens.

Athens, Ga.--Kenny Irons, one of the heroes of the night, said there was no doubt in his mind that John Vaughn was going to kick the winning field as Auburn rallied from behind for the final time to take a 31-30 SEC victory over the Georgia Bulldogs.

"What a great way to win the game," said Irons, who rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns as his Tigers improved to 8-2 and stayed alive in the race for the SEC West title.

Vaughn's 20-yard field goal with six seconds left was the difference after Brandon Cox's fourth down and 11 bomb to Devin Aromashodu set up the game-winner.

The 62-yard pass play came on a route that the Tigers had specially designed for a third and long situation. Earlier in the game it was open, but Cox missed the throw.

"This time it was so wide open I couldn't believe it," Cox said. "I was worried that I wasn't seeing somebody when I let it go."

Aromashdou ran past Georgia star safety Greg Blue like he was standing still and raced toward the Georgia goal. Bulldog cornerback Paul Oliver knocked the ball away from Aromashodu just before he crossed the goal line. AU wideout Courtney Taylor, trailing the play, recovered in the end zone.

Although the officials ruled it was a touchdown, they reconsidered and put the ball outside the Georgia three, ruling that on a fourth down play Aromashodu's forward fumble had to go back to the spot where he lost the ball.

"I knew that was what the call was going to be," Coach Tommy Tuberville said. "Man, what a ball game," added Tuberville, who noted that there was so much going on that it was difficult to remember all of the big plays after the victory.

After the ball was spotted outside the Georgia three, AU played conservatively with three runs by Irons to position the ball for the short field goal and burn all but six seconds on the clock, which was a big deal with Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley having the hot hand. He passed for 304 yards and two TDs while Cox hit 16-28 for 279 yards.

"That fourth down play was the ball game," said Auburn offensive coordinator Al Borges. "I would rather than be in that situation, but what a great throw by Brandon Cox. What a terrific college football game. I was told there were nine lead changes. That was a game we will remember."

Borges said the Auburn offensive line was the star of the show for the offense as Auburn racked up 506 total yards, including 227 on the ground. "That was what won it for us," he said.

There was plenty of action early. After being backed up at its eight-yard line following a block in the back on Anthony Mix on the kickoff, the Tigers put together one of their most impressive drives of the season. The Tigers drove 92 yards on 13 plays.

Kenny Irons scored the touchdown behind a block from guard Tim Duckworth and he was untouched on his way to the end zone as he ran off right guard.

After Matt Clark's kickoff went out of bounds at the one, Georgia started with good field position and took advantage of it. Using no huddles, the Bulldogs quickly moved 33 yards in six plays to set up a 49-yard field goal by Brandon Coutu to cut Auburn's lead to 7-3 with 8:28 left in the opening quarter.

The Tigers were moving the ball again after the kickoff, but turned the ball over on a miscommunication between Cox and Mix on a short pass that was picked off by cornerback Paul Oliver, who was filling in for normal starter Tim Jennings. Knocked by his own man, he gave the Bulldogs good field position at the Tiger 47.

Two passes by D.J. Shockley helped the Bulldogs move to a first and goal at the Auburn one. Georgia scored three plays later from the floor when Shockley found six-foot-seven tight end Leonard Pope. That put the Bulldogs up 10-7 with 4:50 left in the first quarter.

The Tigers had their first punt on the next series after stalling just outside the UGA 40. Auburn's defense then held the Bulldogs with its first three and out and the Tigers took over at their own 32 after a fair catch by Tre Smith.

The Tigers again moved into UGA territory, but stalled at the 37 and punted the ball into the end zone when field goal kicker John Vaughn tried a pooch kick from field goal formation that rolled into the end zone.

The next time Auburn got the ball it didn't take long to score. Brad Lester, on his first carry since the Arkansas game, raced 30 yards up the middle through a huge hole to the UGA 45. Mix caught a sideline pass over cornerback Paul Oliver to the UGA six. On the next play, on a power sweep at right end, Kenny Irons scored the touchdown. That play put the Tigers back on top 14-10 with 6:18 left in the half.

Georgia kept the pressure on the Auburn defense on the next possession with its no-huddle. The Bulldogs kept the ball for 5:05 before setting for a 28-yard field goal by Coutu with 1:13 left in the half and Auburn ahead 14-13.

The Tigers made a first down and decided to not do anything risky and took their one-point lead into the halftime dressing room.

Georgia came out hot to start the second half. The Bulldogs moved 80-yards on nine plays with scrambles by Shockley helping set up the score. Shockley threw a perfect nine-yard touchdown to wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi who caught the ball on the run as he beat cornerback David Irons, who was right on his heels.

The Tigers could manage just one first down on their opening possession of the third quarter, but a punt play turned out to be a big one for the Tigers as Thomas Flowers, the punt returner, was stripped of the ball by Steve Gandy. Karibi Dede fell on the ball at the Georgia 30.

It didn't take long for the Tigers to cash in. Running a reverse around left end, Ben Obomanu raced 30 yards for the score with the help of a block from tight end Cooper Wallace. That put the Tigers on top 21-20 with 8:21 left in the third quarter as John Vaughn hit the PAT.

Obomanu races for the touchdown.

Auburn missed a big opportunity on the next possession. Following a sack by Stanley McClover on Shockley, the QB threw a third and 15 pass into the arms of David Irons, who dropped the ball when he had lots of room to run toward the Georgia goal line.

Georgia had the next scoring opportunity and cashed in, moving 82 yards in seven plays, mostly with Shockley's passing. However, the touchdown was a six-yard sweep at right end by Thomas Brown.

Georgia planned to go for two, but a delay of game changed that and the Bulldogs kicked a PAT to increase their lead to 27-21 with 12:33 to play in the fourth quarter.

Despite starting at its own six after the kickoff, the Tigers got the ball out of trouble with a pass to tight end Cole Bennett and moved deep into Georgia territory on a deep sideline route to Aromashodu, who beat safety Greg Blue. However, on the next play, Kenny Irons lost the ball and after a debate and a replay, it was awarded to the Bulldogs.

Two plays later, the Bulldogs made the mistake. Defensive end Marquis Gunn stripped the football from Georgia fullback Brannan Southerland, who caught a short pass. Karibi Dede, who played offense in high school, scooped and scored, running in from 15 yards out.

With the PAT kick, Auburn was back on top 28-27 with 9:28 left in the fourth quarter.

Georgia regained the lead with 3:25 left on a 41-yard Coutu field goal to make it 30-28 after moving 15 yards on five plays after a 24-yard Bliss punt that went out of bounds under pressure.

Auburn got the ball back at its 20 and scored in 10 plays with Vaughn's field goal putting the Tigers ahead 31-30. After kicking the ball into the end zone after a roughing the kicker penalty, Georgia had one play as time expired and a 30-yard pass to midfield was too little, too late.

"That's one game that I won't forget," Aromashodu said as he celebrated with his teammates. "I think that one was an instant classic."


Dawg Post Top Stories