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Auburn Punches Ticket to SEC Championship Game

Nov. 13, 2010

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AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn used a 14-point third quarter to wrestle away momentum from Georgia en route to a 49-31 win to keep the number two team in the nation undefeated with just one regular season game remaining. Auburn trailed by 14 points in the first quarter but outscored Georgia 42-10 over the last three quarters to move to 11-0, 7-0 SEC on the season and clinch a berth in next month's SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.

Auburn used a punishing ground attack, led by quarterback Cam Newton's 150 rushing yards and Onterio McCalebb's 71 yards and three rushing touchdowns, to rack up 315 yards on the ground on 57 carries, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and scoring five of its seven touchdowns on the ground.

The other two Auburn scores came courtesy of two Netwon to Philip Lutzenkirchen tosses as he hit the tight end for an 18-yard score in the closing minutes of the first half to tie it at 21-21 and then again on Auburn's first drive of the fourth quarter with a 13 yard pass to go up 42-31. Newton finished the night with 148 yards passing and in the process became the first player in SEC history and the eighth different player in NCAA history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a single season.

Auburn tailback Michael Dyer also etched his name in the school's record book as he gained 60 yards on 13 carries, establishing a freshman record for yards in a season with 859, snapping Bo Jackson's 28-year old record of 829 yards set in 1982.

Tied at 21-21 at the half, Auburn successfully converted and recovered an on-side kick that lead to a nine-play, 59-yard scoring drive, capped by McCalebb's second touchdown of the day, this one a two-yard scamper to go up 28-21.

After Georgia (5-6, 3-5 SEC) answered to tie it at 28-28 on Washaun Ealey's seven-yard touchdown run, Auburn went 81 yards in seven plays, capped by McCalebb's four-yard score to go up 35-28, a lead it would not relinquish the rest of the way.

In Auburn's 14-point third quarter, the team rushed for 140 yards on 16 carries while not attempting a pass.

After allowing 162 yards and three touchdowns to Georgia on each of its first three possessions, the Auburn defense stiffened, allowing just 192 yards the rest of the way.

Craig Stevens led Auburn with nine tackles while Nosa Eguae had two sacks of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who finished the game 15-for-28 for 273 yards.

Emory Blake had three catches for 64 yards to lead all of Auburn's receivers while A.J. Green led Georgia with nine catches for 164 yards and two scores.

Newton shakes off troubles to lead Auburn past UGA

By PAUL NEWBERRY, AP College Football Writer

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Cam Newton did his talking on the field.

Responding with another brilliant performance, Newton passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more to lead No. 2 Auburn into the Southeastern Conference championship game -- and another step closer to playing for the national title.

The Tigers pulled away from Georgia in the fourth quarter for a 49-31 victory that, at least for one day, took some of the heat off college football's most dynamic player.

"I'm just very proud of the way he played," coach Gene Chizik said. "He's a really, really talented, extremely gifted player who means a lot of our football team."

Newton celebrated with his teammates after the game, yukking it up in front of the student section.

Auburn officials refused to make Newton available to the media.

Chizik went along with that theme, saying right at the start of his news conference he would only answer questions about what happened on the field. When a reporter asked him about his feelings toward Cecil Newton, the quarterback's father, this was the reply: "I'm only taking questions about this football game, thank you."

The Tigers (11-0, 7-0 SEC) will face No. 22 South Carolina for the conference title on Dec. 4 in Atlanta, though let's not forget that game looming in two weeks -- the Iron Bowl showdown against defending national champion Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

"We have another huge football game coming up," Chizik said. "We've got to get ready for that game."

"SEC! SEC! SEC!" the sellout crowd of 87,451 chanted in the closing minutes, looking forward to the Tigers' return to the title game for the first time since the perfect 2004 season. For their second-year coach, it was an especially satisfying moment, since many took issue with Auburn's decision to hire someone with a 5-19 career record.

"Make no mistake, our goal when we got her was to win a championship," Chizik said. "We've not done that yet. We're not going to act like we have, because we haven't. But we're one step closer to being able to do that."

Auburn survived another high-scoring, back-and-forth affair, rallying from an early 21-7 deficit to tie it up by halftime. The Tigers kept the momentum going with a daring onside kick to start the third quarter, recovering the ball and driving for the go-ahead touchdown.

Georgia (5-6, 3-5) hung tough behind A.J. Green's nine-catch, 164-yard performance, tying the game again at 28-all before Auburn went ahead for good on Onterio McCalebb's 4-yard touchdown run. Newton finished off the Bulldogs with his second scoring pass of the game to tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, a 13-yarder over the middle with 8:05 remaining.

Newton rushed for 151 yards on 30 bruising carries, scoring Auburn's first touchdown on a 31-yard run and capping off the win with a 1-yard leap into the end zone in the closing minutes. The ball popped loose, Georgia recovered and the replay left some doubt about whether he got over.

But the review went Newton's way, as so many things have this season. The 6-foot-6, 250-pounder celebrated with another leap into receivers coach Trooper Taylor along the sideline, sending the much-smaller assistant flying.

Newton completed 12 of 15 passes for 148 yards, and his one glaring mistake -- an interception that set up a Georgia touchdown -- was actually off a deflected ball that should have been caught by the receiver.

Along the way, Newton became the first player in Southeastern Conference history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

The only sour note for Auburn came in the closing seconds. Things got chippy as the teams jawed back and forth at each other, and a brawl nearly broke out.

Two of the Tigers' defensive players, tackle Mike Blanc and end Michael Goggans, were ejected and can't play in the first half against Alabama.

"I'm embarrassed by it," Chizik said. "That's not who we are, that's not the way we carry ourselves, and we'll address it tonight."

Green, whose season began with a four-game suspension for selling a bowl jersey to someone considered an agent by the NCAA, was impressed by the way Newton handled himself amid all the turmoil.

"He had a great game," Green said. "It's hard to focus when you're a quarterback and you've got all that stuff surrounding you. He's a great guy and I feel like he handled the show in a professional way."

The lingering issue about Newton's playing status was answered when he trotted on the field an hour before kickoff, wearing his familiar No. 2, and went through the normal pregame routine with the rest of the offense. The early arriving student body roared when they spotted the quarterback, and the cheers were even louder about a half-hour later when Newton was announced as the starting quarterback.

One fan held up a sign that said, "We Are Cam-ily."

On the very first snap, Newton dropped back to pass, sidestepped two defenders and broke off a 13-yard run. Four plays later, he got loose around right end and bowled over two defenders as he tumbled into the end zone.

Georgia had won four straight in the Deep South's oldest rivalry and needed another to become bowl eligible in a disappointing season. Redshirt Aaron Murray passed for 273 yards and three touchdowns, while the Bulldogs defense got some pressure on Newton in the early going.

They couldn't keep it going, not against a guy intent on leaving his troubles behind.



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