Auburn running back Brad Lester.
Oct. 6, 2007
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Ben Tate rushed for 96 yards, Brad Lester ran for 77 yards and two touchdowns in his season debut following a suspension, and Auburn beat Vanderbilt 35-7 Saturday for its third consecutive victory.
The Tigers (4-2, 2-1 Southeastern Conference), fresh from a road upset over No. 9 Florida, scored touchdowns on four of their first five possessions and were up 28-0 at halftime behind a revolving door of tailbacks and the efficient passing of Brandon Cox.
Lester had been out since the Cotton Bowl because of an academics-related suspension, but the slashing back provided an immediate boost to Auburn's offense.
Tate had just nine carries while Lester had 13. Mario Fannin gained 54 yards on 11 carries and had three catches for 26 yards.
All three tailbacks had big plays during a first half when Auburn outgained Vandy (3-2, 1-2) by a total of 324-66. Tate had a 4-yard touchdown and a 44-yard run to set up another. Fannin ran for 21 yards and a 22-yard touchdown on back-to-back carries, and Lester spun out of a defender's grasp for a 17-yard score.
The Commodores entered the game on a two-game winning streak but have lost the last 13 meetings with the Tigers dating to 1955. They were down three touchdowns within the first 16 minutes against the resurgent Tigers, who had dropped two games in a row before their current streak.
Cox completed 14 of 17 passes for 165 yards with a touchdown and an interception in three quarters before he was replaced by freshman Kodi Burns.
Vandy's Mackenzi Adams took over for a struggling Chris Nickson at quarterback in the second half. Nickson was just 5-for-16 for 38 yards.
Adams didn't fare any better, going 4-of-9 for 24 yards with an interception and getting sacked twice.
The Commodores finally scored on Cassen Jackson-Garrison's 1-yard run with 4:57 left, and that drive was kept alive by two pass interference calls against Auburn's Walter McFadden. It was their fifth drive inside the Auburn 35, with two stalled on failed fourth-down conversions in the third quarter.
The Tigers were able to pressure both quarterbacks consistently despite playing without four starting defenders, including defensive end Quentin Groves (dislocated toes).
Vandy receiver Earl Bennett broke the school career mark with his 201st catch midway through the third quarter. The SEC's leading receiver was held to a season-low 31 yards on four catches.
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville picked up his 100th career win in 12-plus years in the SEC.