By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. - Sean White came off the bench to provide a spark, and Auburn ran its winning streak to six consecutive games with a 23-16 hard-fought victory over Vanderbilt in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.
White, usually Auburn's starting quarterback, didn't play in the first half while nursing an injury. He was fit to play in the second half.
Auburn, down 13-10 at the break, called on White to straighten things out. He did.
So did Josh Holsey, whose interception in the final 30 seconds ended Vandy's hopes.
Auburn improved to 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the Southeastern Conference. Vanderbilt fell to 3-4 overall and 1-4 in the league.
White took over for starter John Franklin III, who completed two of four passes in the second half. Auburn ran only 25 plays in the first two quarters, so the Tigers turned to White.
"He was banged up. He was hurt. He didn't take one practice snap," said coach Gus Malzahn.
But he was well enough to help win the game.
"Obviously, he gave our offense a spark."
Kamryn Pettway rushed for 173 yards to go over the 1,000-yard mark for the season, but hurt himself on a 61-yard run late in the game and Malzahn wouldn't guess whether his running back would be available for next Saturday's game at Georgia. Daniel Carlson kicked three field goals to become Auburn's all-time field goal kicker, now with 61 his career.
White started the second half and quickly produced results, completing five straight passes on his first drive, including a 21-yard touchdown pass to Darius Slayton for a 17-13 lead. White was 7-of-7 passing before his first miss. But Daniel Carlson fixed that with his second field goal of the game, this time a 53-yarder, to put Auburn up 20-13 with 5:57 left in the third quarter.
Vandy's Tommy Openshaw made it 20-16, but Carlson stretched the lead on a 32-yard field goal with 11:01 left in the fourth quarter. The Tigers did all of that despite being slowed by injuries before the game even started, then picking up more as the game played out.
"We had some guys who really stepped up," Malzahn said. And, "We're just about out of linebackers."
Auburn didn't do much offensively in the first half on its 25 plays, though Kerryon Johnson still managed a touchdown on a 3-yard run, and Carlson hit a 45-yard field goal. But Vandy had success in the middle of the field, scoring on an 8-yard pass from Kyle Shurmur to Jared Pinkney, and two Tommy Openshaw field goals for a 13-10 lead at halftime.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine