Byrum's Game-Winning Field Goal Lifts Auburn Over Kentucky
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM Cam Newton
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
Cam Newton
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

Oct. 9, 2010

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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Wes Byrum kicked a 24-yard field goal as time expired to give unbeaten and No. 8 Auburn a 37-34 victory over Kentucky at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday. The Tigers had a 19-play, 86-yard drive in the final 7:22 to set up the game-winner.

The drive tied for the second longest drive by plays in Auburn history with 19 plays vs. Ole Miss in 1985 and just missed the record of 20 plays vs. West Virginia in 2008. Cam Newton had 54 yards rushing and completed 2-of-3 passes for 20 yards on the final possession. He finished with 408 yards total offense for the game for Auburn.

"I actually thought the offense was going to punch it in there and score, and it was going to be the end of it," Byrum said. "The defensive guys came up to me and I told them I was going to knock this through for them because they had been fighting the whole game. These guys on the O-line and D-line. The offensive line drove the ball all the way down the field and got me a short, short field goal in the middle for the win. It really all goes to them."

After Kentucky tied it at 34 with 7:31 remaining in the game, Auburn never let the Wildcats get the ball again. On the ensuing kickoff return, Demond Washington and Zachery mishandled the handoff on a reverse but Auburn recovered at the 7-yard line. Newton and Adams connected again with each other on a huge 3rd down and 6 pass conversion from the Auburn 11 for 9 yards. The duo connected on 101 yards on five passes for the game.

The Tigers continued down the field as Newton converted his third huge 3rd down conversion of four yards from the Kentucky 27 with under two minutes remaining. The Tigers drove down to the 7 yard line before calling time out with two seconds left in the game.

"As I've said many weeks before this, we are finding interesting ways to end the games, but we are 6-0 and that is all that matters," said Auburn head coach Gene Chizik. "I am so proud of our football team finding different ways to win the game at the end. I couldn't be more proud of that offense after that last drive, milking the clock and managing the clock. It was great to see."

Newton tied a school record with four touchdowns rushing and scored the Tigers' first three touchdowns of the game. For the game, he totaled 198 yards rushing on 28 carries and had 210 yards passing, completing 13-of-21 passes.

In the first half alone, Newton rushed for 132 yards on 13 carries and four touchdowns and passed for 129 yards, completing 8-of-11 passes, as the Tigers scored on all five possessions in taking a 31-17 halftime lead.

"I think as a team we are getting closer to closer as the season progresses," said Newton. "It showed out there tonight how relentless this team is. It was an excellent game plan going into this game."

Kentucky's Randall Cobb returned the opening kickoff 36 yards just beyond midfield to set up a 7 play, 49 yard touchdown drive for a 7-0 Wildcat lead on a 2 yard run by Cobb 3:09 into the game. Cobb and Derrick Locke accounted for all the yards in the drive.

Auburn (6-0, 3-0 SEC) tied the score on its first possession on a 16 yard Cam Newton touchdown run with 6:44 left in the first quarter. The Tigers drove 78 yards in nine plays.

Dyer started the Tigers' second possession at the Auburn 20 with a 27-yard run. Newton capped off the 80 yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run to put Auburn ahead 14-7 with 1:17 left in the opening quarter.

A 33-yard Newton to Kodi Burns pass completion to the Kentucky 9 set up Newton's third touchdown run of the game, this time a 5 yarder, to give Auburn a 21-7 lead with 10:01 remaining in the half. Auburn drove 80 yards for the second time in three drives, this time in only six plays. The key play was Burns' first reception of the season.

Daren Bates caused the first turnover of the game as he knocked the ball loose from Locke. Craig Stevens recovered it as Auburn took over on its own 48. It set up a 38 yard Wes Byrum field goal that increased Auburn's lead to 24-7 lead with 7:12 to go in the half.

Kentucky (3-3, 0-3 SEC) ended the run of 24 consecutive points by Auburn with a 6-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Aumiller with 4:52 left in the second to bring the Wildcats to within 24-14. Both of Kentucky's first touchdowns were set up by kickoff returns to the Auburn 49 and the Kentucky 45.

A 34-yard Newton pass on an incredible reception by Darvin Adams on 3rd down and 17 from the Auburn 17 helped the Tigers move the chains late in the second quarter. Following a Tiger personal foul penalty on that play, Newton completed a 23-yard pass to Onterio McCalebb to the Kentucky 40. Newton then ran it two plays later for a gain of 35 yards to the Wildcat 5. Newton scored his fourth touchdown rushing of the half on a 3-yard run for a 31-14 lead with 1:06 left.

Kentucky's Craig McIntosh kicked a 29-yard field goal as the first half ended as the teams went into intermission with Auburn leading 31-17.

Auburn's 31 first half points in back-to-back games marked the first time since 1995 that the Tigers have scored 31 or more points in the opening half of consecutive games. Newton tied Phil Gargis' school record of four rushing touchdowns by a quarterback that was set in 1975 vs. Florida State.

Kentucky scored the first points of the second half as it closed to within 31-24 on a 16-yard Mike Hartline pass to Cobb with 8:18 left in the third. Cobb had a hand in each of the Wildcats' first three touchdowns with one rushing, passing and receiving, respectively.

Cobb tied the game at 31 with 4:03 remaining in the third on a 1-yard run that was set up by his 26-yard scamper a play earlier.

The Tigers struck back quickly as Newton threaded a 17-yard pass into triple coverage to Terrell Zachery and then fired a 39-yard strike to Darvin Adams to the Kentucky 20. Byrum helped the Tigers regain the lead at 34-31 on a 19-yard field goal with 14:17 left in the game. Byrum's 50th career field goal tied John Vaughn's school record.

Kentucky then drove deep into Auburn territory and barely made a 4th and 1 conversion at the Tigers' 15, but the Auburn defense held the Wildcats on three straight plays. Kentucky tied it at 34 on a 35-yard field goal by Craig McIntosh with 7:31 to go. It was the first fourth quarter points Auburn has allowed to an SEC opponent this year.

Auburn finished with 521 total yards offense while Kentucky had 336 yards. Michael Dyer rushed for 56 yards on nine carries and Mario Fannin gained 50 yards on eight carries.

Cobb finished with 47 yards rushing on 11 carries and 68 yards receiving on seven catches for the Wildcats while accounting for four touchdowns, two rushing, one receiving and one passing. Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline completed 23-of-28 passes for 220 yards.

The Tigers return to action against Arkansas next Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium. The game time will be announced Sunday or Monday.


Newton helps No. 8 Auburn Escape Kentucky 37-34

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Cam Newton was dazzling as No. 8 Auburn spurted to a 17-point lead against Kentucky.

After the Wildcats rallied, the quarterback's grit kept the Tigers undefeated.

Newton accounted for 74 yards on Auburn's clock-chewing final drive, setting up Wes Byrum's 24-yard field goal as time expired and Auburn escaped with a 37-34 victory Saturday night.

"We were relentless," Newton said. "In my shoes, I feel comfortable going to battle."

It certainly looked that way.

The junior ran for a career-high 198 yards and four touchdowns and passed for another 210 more, but it was his steady play with the game on the line that kept the Tigers (6-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) perfect.

Not that Auburn looked like it during a lethargic second half that allowed Kentucky (3-3, 0-3) to tie the game twice, the second time on a 35-yard field goal by Craig McIntosh with 7:31 to go.

The Tigers nearly gave it right back to the Wildcats when a planned reverse on the kickoff ended with the ball on the ground. Auburn's Terrell Zachery fell on it, but the Tigers found themselves backed up at their own 7.

No biggie. Not for arguably the SEC's most dangerous weapon.

Newton hit Darvin Adams on the sideline to convert a 3rd-and-six at the Auburn 11. Then hit Adams again for 11 yards.

On and on it went. Three yards here. Four yards there. It wasn't the heaping acreage Newton gained during a spectacular first half, but it was enough.

"Our mentality was to win by any means necessary," Newton said.

That meant eschewing the big plays that helped the Tigers roll early in exchange for smaller, more conservative plays that consumed the clock.

The 19-play drive, tied for the second-longest in school history, ended with the ball at the Kentucky 6 and the game on Byrum's right foot.

The senior calmly drilled the fifth game-winner of his career and his teammates ran onto the field in celebration.

"I knew the offense was going to drive it down and eat the clock up," said Byrum, who now has a school-record 51 field goals. "It was unbelievable. They made the job easy for me."

Randall Cobb accounted for four touchdowns for the Wildcats -- one passing, two running and one receiving -- but couldn't stop Kentucky from dropping its third straight.

"Our guys were into it, played hard, played inspired, played with emotions, made plays when we needed to have them made," said Kentucky coach Joker Phillips. "We just came up a little short."

Auburn's high-wire act avenged a 21-14 home loss to the Wildcats a year ago, a defeat that continued an October swoon by the Tigers after they got off to a 5-0 start in coach Gene Chizik's first season.

Not this time.

"We methodically did the things you have to do to win games," Chizik said. "This is kind of another one in the string of finding different ways to win."

Only after the Tigers almost found a way to lose.

Newton and the Tigers dominated during the first half, scoring on all five possessions. Yet the Wildcats rallied even without running back Derrick Locke, who went out in the third quarter with a shoulder injury.

Cobb then put the Wildcats on his slender shoulders, one-upping Newton with some dazzling playmaking out of the "WildCobb" formation.

He finished with 121 yards of total offense -- 47 rushing, 68 receiving and six passing -- and his ridiculous 26-yard run in the third quarter led to his own 1-yard burst that tied the game at 31.

Too bad Cobb didn't play defense too.

Though Kentucky found a way to put the clamps on Newton in the second half, they couldn't when it mattered.

For the first 30 minutes, it didn't appear any late exploits would be necessary.

Auburn's visit marked the beginning of a pivotal three-game homestand for the Wildcats, one they viewed as an opportunity to turn their season around after losses at Florida and Mississippi.

Instead, Newton turned Kentucky's leaky defense inside out.

"That's my job -- to be dominant every single play," Newton said.

The Wildcats made Newton look ordinary for long stretches in the second half. They picked off the SEC's most efficient passer and kept him from breaking loose.

"It's kind of embarrassing," Newton said.

Until the end, that is.