ATLANTA---Offensive MVP Onterio McCalebb rushed for a season-high 109 yards and had 180 all-purpose yards, Emory Blake caught six passes for a career-high tying 108 yards and Barrett Trotter came off the bench to throw for 175 yards and one touchdown to lead Auburn to a 43-24 victory over Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in the Georgia Dome on Saturday.
Trotter completed 11-of-18 passes after he and Kiehl Frazier came in for injured starter Clint Moseley in the first quarter. Frazier had 16 carries for 55 yards and became the ninth Tiger to score two touchdowns in a bowl game, tying the school record. Tre Mason gained 64 yards on nine carries and had his first career rushing touchdown.
"It was a lot of fun," said Auburn head coach Gene Chizik. "I am so happy for our kids and our coaches. That was a good football team that we beat tonight. We are just glad to come in here and have the first win of the year starting our next year."
Auburn (8-5, 4-4 SEC) used a big second quarter as it scored 21 consecutive points to take control of the game, 28-14.
After Virginia took a 14-7 lead, Auburn quickly answered as McCalebb ran it in from three yards out on third down to tie it 14-14 with 10:33 left in the half. McCalebb jump-started the 6-play, 85-yard drive as he zig-zagged for a season-long 60 yards down to the Virginia 25. Trotter completed a 22-yard pass to Emory Blake to the Cavalier 5.
"It means a whole lot to finish out with these guys," said Trotter. "It was good to be able to finish what I started. I got the opportunity to start the season, and there is nothing I hate more than starting something and not finishing it.
"I hate that Clint (Moseley) got hurt, but I am so glad to be able to come in and send all of the seniors out with a win. As soon as I saw Clint limping off, I went ahead and took my headset off and started warming up."
Then, Parkey successfully recovered his onside kick at the Auburn 41 as the Tigers went on to take the lead for good, 21-14, on Frazier's 1-yard third down rush with 8:44 left. Trotter completed a 50-yard pass to Blake to the Virginia 5.
"It is the same pass that we have been running all year," said Trotter. "They were playing a tight corners look, and I feel really comfortable with that play. Emory made a great play on the ball and got open, and it was a really long play that helped us."
Auburn's 14 consecutive points came on 11 plays and 144 yards in 4:08. The Tigers only had 37 yards total offense prior.
"There is no question (the onside kick was the momentum changer)," said Chizik. "We knew we were going to do that. We told the players all week that we were going to do that. We knew we were going to get it, and we are pretty much undefeated when it comes to that kick. It's hard to stop if you execute it right. But, it was definitely a momentum changer."
On the ensuing possession, Chris Davis snuffed out a Virginia fake field goal after Eltoro Freeman broke up a Cavalier pass in the end zone the play before.
Auburn scored a touchdown on its third-straight possession as Trotter completed a 29-yard touchdown pass to McCalebb with 59 seconds left in the half to give Auburn a 28-14 lead. The Tigers put together another impressive drive of 9 plays, 88 yards in 3:38.
"I couldn't be more proud of a young guy than I am of Barrett Trotter in so many ways off the field, the way that he handled everything in the middle of the season and what a fitting end to his season," said Chizik. "He finished it the way he started it."
Virginia's Robert Randolph kicked a 24-yard field goal as the half ended to make it 28-17 Auburn. The Cavaliers drove 63 yards in six plays and 54 seconds.
Auburn set a bowl record with 28 first half points and gained 274 yards with a balanced attack of 138 yards rushing and 136 passing in the opening two quarters. The Tigers surpassed the 23 points scored against Boston College in the 1982 Tangerine Bowl.
Virginia (7-6, 5-3 ACC) opened the game's scoring with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Michael Rocco to Kris Burd with 8:05 left in first. The Cavaliers' 64-yard touchdown drive came after the Tigers started their first drive at their own 7.
A pair of freshmen from Springdale, Ark., and Shiloh Christian teammates came up big on Auburn's next possession in Garrett Harper and Frazier.
Harper, a walk-on, blocked the first punt of his career as Auburn took over on the Virginia 15. The Tigers tied it 7-7 as Frazier scored on a 3-yard touchdown run up the middle with 4:02 left in the opening quarter. McCalebb set it up with a 12-yard run the play before.
Frazier came in on the drive for starting quarterback Clint Moseley, who was injured on Auburn's previous offensive play the drive before.
On Virginia's next possession, Auburn's Chris Davis, the game's Defensive MVP who finished with eight tackles, forced a Perry Jones fumble that was recovered by Ryan at the Cavalier 32. The Tigers ran three plays and then Cody Parkey missed a 44-yard field goal wide left.
Two personal foul penalties by the Tigers led to Virginia taking a 14-7 lead on the second Rocco-to-Burd scoring pass of the game, this time from six yards three minutes into the second quarter.
Mason scored his first career rushing touchdown to open the third quarter with a 22-yarder to put Auburn up 35-17 almost four minutes in. Mason had three rushes for 44 yards on the 9-play, 80-yard scoring drive.
Kevin Parks answered for Virginia with a 1-yard touchdown run to bring the Cavaliers to within 35-24 with 6:20 left in the third.
Steven Clark pinned Virginia at its own 6-yard line and the Tigers defense held the Cavs to three and out as Gabe Wright made his first career sack at the 1-yard line. Then, Angelo Blackson blocked UVa's punt out of the end zone for a safety and a 37-24 lead with 1:57 remaining in the third. It's the first time Auburn had blocked two punts in the same game since 2003 vs. Louisiana-Monroe.
Quan Bray took the ensuing kickoff and returned it 57 yards to the Virginia 15. Parkey nailed a 45-yard field goal after a personal foul and false start penalty to make it 40-24 with 47 seconds to go in the third.
Parkey drilled his second field goal of the game, a 37-yarder, to give Auburn a 43-24 lead with 8:09 remaining.
Auburn outgained Virginia 454 to 435 yards total offense while the Tigers rushed for 273 yards on 44 carries and the Cavaliers 123 yards on 30 attempts. Auburn passed for 181 yards on 12-of-23 attempts while Virginia was 26-of-41 for 312 yards and one interception.
Auburn's 43 points were a season-high and a Tigers' bowl record which they eclipsed by the end of the third quarter with 40 points. It surpassed the 38 scored vs. Northwestern in the 2010 Outback Bowl.
McCalebb rushed for over 100 yards for the first time since the first two games of his freshman year and eclipsed the 2,000 career rushing yard mark in the second quarter and finished with 109 yards for the game for 2,016 in his career, 14th on Auburn's all-time list.