Auburn Falls to Alabama in Iron Bowl

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM Onterio McCalebb
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
Onterio McCalebb
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

Nov. 26, 2011


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AUBURN - Auburn got a pair of touchdowns from its defense and special teams but was held to a season-low offensive output as the Tigers fell short to No. 2 Alabama on Saturday, 42-14, in the 76th edition of the Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn completes the 2011 regular season with a 7-5 overall record, 4-4 in SEC play. Alabama wraps up regular-season play at 11-1 overall, 7-1 in conference play. Both teams will await expected bowl bids, which are scheduled to be announced next Sunday.

The Tigers were held to 140 yards of total offense while Alabama gained 397 yards, 213 of them on the ground. The Tide got 203 of those rushing yards on 27 carries from Trent Richardson, who led all rushers on the night. Auburn was led by Michael Dyer with 48 yards on 13 carries.

Clint Moseley was 11-for-18 through the air for 62 yards and one interception. Quan Bray was Auburn's leading receiver with five catches for 22 yards.

For Alabama, A.J. McCarron went 18-for-23 for 184 yards and three touchdowns. Brad Smelley was Alabama's top receiver with six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown.

Onterio McCalebb was a standout for the Tigers on special teams as he had three kickoff returns for 136 yards and a touchdown, his first career kickoff return for a score, on the opening kickoff of the season half.

The Crimson Tide got on the board first with a bit of trickery as AJ McCarron, off a flea-flicker, found Kenny Bell for 41 yards to give Alabama a 7-0 lead midway through the opening quarter.

After a short punt on the next Tiger possession, Alabama took over at the Auburn 35 and capitalized on its first play as McCarron hit Brad Smelley for 35 yards, putting the Tide ahead 14-0.

Auburn would get a huge play from its defense to get on the board with four seconds remaining in the first quarter. After a quick-kick from Moseley pinned Alabama at its own 10-yard-line, Corey Lemonier got pressure on McCarron, forcing a fumble that was recovered in the end zone by Kenneth Carter to pull the Tigers within a score at 14-7. It was the first fumble return/recovery for an Auburn touchdown since Zac Etheridge returned a fumble 47 yards against Arkansas last season.

Alabama, however, would answer on its next possession. The Tide would put together a 12-play, 80-yard drive, capped off by a 5-yard touchdown run from Trent Richardson to take a 21-7 lead midway through the second quarter. The Tide would then tack on a 30-yard field goal from Jeremy Shelley late in the half, taking a 24-7 lead into halftime.

Auburn would waste no time getting the sellout crowd of 87,451 at Jordan-Hare Stadium back into the game. McCalebb returned the opening kickoff of the second half 83 yards for a touchdown to pull Auburn back within 10 points at 24-14. It was the first kickoff return touchdown of McCalebb's career and Auburn's second of the season; Tre Mason also returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the season-opener against Utah State. In addition, it was the first kickoff return touchdown by an Auburn player in the history of the Iron Bowl.

Shelley added Alabama's second field goal midway through the third quarter to give the Tide a 27-14 lead that would stand until the end of the period. Then, on the third play of the fourth quarter, Alabama's Dee Milliner returned a Moseley interception 35 yards for a touchdown, and a two-point conversion made it 35-14.

The Tigers would drive deep into Alabama territory early in the fourth quarter but would turn it over on downs inside the Crimson Tide 10-yard-line. From there, Alabama would go 90 yards in five plays and take a 42-14 lead on a 15-yard run by Jalston Fowler.

Defensively, Auburn was led by Daren Bates with 10 tackles. Neiko Thorpe added nine while Jonathan Mincy and Demetruce McNeal had six apiece.

Auburn limited Alabama in the return game as Steven Clark had five punts for an average of 42.2 yards with a long of 54. Marquis Maze was only able to return two of them, gaining 21 yards. Moseley also had one punt for 39 yards.

All five of Auburn's losses on the season have come to teams ranked in the Associated Press top 15. Four of those came on the road as the Tigers dropped decisions to No. 1 LSU, No. 8 Arkansas, No. 9 Clemson and No. 14 Georgia. Tonight's defeat marked the Tigers' first home loss since the 2009 Iron Bowl, snapping a 14-game home win streak that was tied for the fifth-longest in program history.