Sept. 9, 2010
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Cam Newton along with Nick Fairley and a strong Tiger defense led No. 21 Auburn to a 17-14 victory over Mississippi State in the SEC opener for both teams at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field on Thursday.
Newton threw for 136 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 70 yards while defensive lineman Nick Fairley had an interception, fumble recovery and three sacks. The Tigers defense limited Mississippi State to only 246 total yards.
"I have to give a lot of credit to Coach Roof," said Auburn head coach Gene Chizik. "He just had a great game plan going in. It was a short week. He really worked hard in getting all of the players in right spots and the right plays. The players played extremely hard. Down to the very last whistle, they played as hard as I've seen them play. You have to be able to do that to go into a place like this on the road and win a game.
"The adjustments by the defensive staff were really great tonight. Our players executed what we asked them to do. It won't be perfect when we look at it tomorrow, but it was good enough to win. It was a great team win."
Auburn (2-0, 1-0 SEC) took the opening kickoff and grabbed a quick 7-0 lead only 3:38 into the game on a 39-yard Cam Newton touchdown pass on a screen to Emory Blake, marking his first touchdown reception of his career. On the 8-play, 68-yard drive, Newton converted a huge 4th and 1 from the State 46.
After the Tigers sacked the Bulldogs three straight times on a three and out, two by Nick Fairley and the other by Mike Blanc, Quindarius Carr fumbled the ensuing punt and Mississippi State recovered it at the Auburn 20 yard line.
State tied it up three plays later from the Tigers 2 as quarterback Chris Reif fumbled the ball into the end zone and State offensive lineman Gabe Jackson recovered it with 2:30 remaining in the opening quarter.
Fairley intercepted State quarterback Tyler Russell's pass at midfield, setting up Auburn's eight play touchdown drive to give the Tigers a 14-7 lead with 8:37 left in the half. On 3rd and goal from the State 12, Newton threw his second touchdown pass of the game, this time to Darvin Adams.
Fairley continued his outstanding performance with a fumble recovery at the State 44 on the Bulldogs' next possession. It led to a 34-yard Wes Byrum field goal for the final scoring of the first half that stretched Auburn's lead to 17-7 with 4:29 remaining.
Mississippi State (1-1, 0-1 SEC) took the opening kickoff of the second half and closed to within 17-14 on a 1-yard touchdown run on third down by Vick Ballard with 8:55 left in the third quarter. The Bulldogs used 12 plays to drive 63 yards.
The Bulldogs then recovered an onside kick at their own 44. Auburn held the Mississippi State to a three and out to finally gain its first second half possession with 8:28 to go in the third at its own 12 yard line.
Mississippi State blocked Byrum's 37 yard field goal attempt with 2:19 to play. The Bulldogs took over at their own 20 yard line and converted a fourth and 4 from their own 26 to the MSU 48 with 90 seconds remaining. On second down, Fairley recorded his third sack of the game to leave the Bulldogs with a 3rd and 15 from their own 45 as they called their final time out.
A pass interference penalty by Neiko Thorpe resulted in a Mississippi State first down at the Auburn 41 with 45 seconds left. Two plays later, Thorpe broke up a 2nd down Reif to Leon Berry pass inside the Auburn 20 with 34 seconds to go. The Tigers held MSU on an incomplete 4th and 10 pass with 22 seconds remaining to clinch their 22nd win in the last 29 games against the Bulldogs.
"I huddled up the defense right before we went out for that last drive," said Fairley. "I said no matter what if the offense scores, we have to go back out there and defend, and we did that. We got pressure up front. They made good plays in the back end. We picked up our defense and everybody went out there and played hard."
The victory gives Auburn 17 wins in its last 18 league openers.
Onterio McCalebb rushed for 68 yards on 12 carries while Mike Dyer had nine rushes for 48 yards.
The Tigers return to action a week from this Saturday as they play host to Clemson at 6 pm Central in Jordan-Hare Stadium on ESPN/ESPN 3D.
Newton dominates, No. 21 Auburn beats MSU 17-14
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- Cameron Newton put on another impressive show Thursday night, this time against a Southeastern Conference defense in No. 21 Auburn's 17-14 victory over Mississippi State.
Newton, a 6-foot-6, 250-pound junior, threw for two touchdowns and accounted for 206 yards of total offense, mixing passes with his ability to run over and around the Mississippi State defense.
"You sign up to play college football to play in games like this," Newton said.
He compeleted 11 of 19 passes for 136 yards, the two touchdowns and one interception and also ran for 70 yards on 18 carries in the SEC opener for both teams.
Newton outgained Mississippi State 146-125 all by himself in the first half. But after leading 17-7 at halftime, the Tigers had to lean on their defense to pull out the hard-fought victory.
"We started off on fire," Newton said. "But we put our defense in some binds, I'm not going to lie. It's just a sign of a good team -- our defense stepped up and did what they had to do."
Mississippi State's last drive ended at the Auburn 40 when Chris Relf's fourth-down pass fell incomplete with 22 seconds remaining.
Both teams had impressive high-scoring openers last week, with Auburn beating Arkansas State 52-26, while Mississippi State battered Memphis 49-7.
Neither team was as successful against an SEC defense, but both had their moments.
Auburn started quickly, taking a 7-0 lead on Newton's 39-yard touchdown pass to Emory Blake early in the first quarter.
Mississippi State tied it 7 after offensive lineman Gabe Jackson fell on quarterback Chris Relf's fumble in the end zone late in the first quarter.
In the second half, Mississippi State pulled to 17-14 on Vick Ballard's 1-yard run midway through the third quarter after grinding through a 12-play, 63-yard drive.
But after that, the Tigers' defense didn't allow much of anything.
Auburn defensive end Nick Fairley always seemed to be in the middle of important plays, finishing with 2.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception and three quarterback hurries.
Mississippi State botched several opportunities to capitalize on big plays and a homefield advantage that featured a packed stadium of 54,806 fans who were screaming and clanging cowbells.
The Bulldogs recovered an onside kick after narrowing Auburn's lead to 17-14, but the offense had three empty plays before punting. Cornerback Corey Broomfield dropped an interception on what would have been a sure touchdown.
And on the final drive, Mississippi State receiver Leon Berry dropped a pass that would have put the Bulldogs in field goal range. For Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen, there were several cringe-worthy moments.
"Every time we'd hit a high note, we wouldn't make the play," Mullen said. "We would thud."
Relf completed 12 of 25 passes for 110 yards.
Auburn has won 17 of its past 18 SEC openers. The Tigers outgained the Bulldogs 348-246.
Mississippi State hasn't won its first two games in a season since 2000 and hasn't won a conference opener since 1999.