Auburn Defeats Vanderbilt in SEC Opener, 45-7
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September 13, 2003
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Auburn Tigers finally played the way they thought they would all along.
The Tigers snapped their touchdown drought and two-game losing skid, with Jason Campbell throwing two TD passes to Jeris McIntyre in a 45-7 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Auburn, which tumbled from its No. 6 preseason ranking and out of the Top 25 with losses to Southern Cal and Georgia Tech, didn't kick into gear immediately against an overmatched school trying to reform college sports by abolishing its athletic department.
But the Tigers (1-2, 1-0 SEC) scored 17 points in the second quarter, and they never were threatened by a program that has lost 19 straight SEC games since November 2000 and 28 of its last 29.
"This is how we were supposed to have been playing from the start," Tigers linebacker Karlos Dansby said. "Right now we're just trying to get the team chemistry right."
Auburn rolled up 483 yards total offense, more than the first two games combined, compared to 221 yards for Vanderbilt (1-2, 0-2). The defense added three turnovers and four sacks.
"We just needed something good to happen," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We needed to make big plays, and we did."
The Tigers didn't shake their hangover immediately.
They started with two penalties on their first three plays from scrimmage. The offensive line, confused about what down it was, started running toward the sideline on third-and-30.
Auburn even missed two field goals, a 51-yarder and a 23-yarder, wide right on the same drive.
But the Commodores couldn't move the ball either, getting just two first downs in the first half with 55 yards offense.
"We couldn't get our offense going," Vandy coach BobbyJohnson said. "And our defense was on the field too much. That's due to turning the ball over to Auburn too many times. It seemed like we were punting the ball on every other down."
The Tigers, who had scored only a field goal this season, finally found the end zone at 12:03 of the second quarter. Campbell found McIntyre on a screen pass to the right, and he broke away from three Commodores and ran in for a 31-yard TD play.
"Once we got in the end zone, we picked up our rhythm," Campbell said. "We picked up a lot of tempo. We were really motivated."
That was the break Auburn needed, and the Tigers drove 64 yards on the next possession for a 14-0 lead as Carnell Williams dove across from 3 yards out to make sure he got into the end zone.
"It's been a while since I have scored," Williams said. "I've been waiting for it, and we got down to the red zone. I could taste it. It was just a big relief."
From there, Auburn kept working out the kinks. McIntyre broke away from a defender for a 67-yard TD in the third quarter. Ronnie Brown also scored on a 1-yard run, and Tre Smith added TD runs of 1 and 10 yards in the fourth for the final margin.
Campbell was 12-of-19 for 220 yards, and Auburn had three running backs rush for at least 50 yards, led by Williams who had 19 carries for 69 yards.
The Commodores had a very scary moment in the second quarter when Dan Murphy was hurt blocking on a kickoff return. Trainers strapped him carefully to a backboard, while both the Vandy offense and the Auburn defense kneeled yards away and prayed.
Murphy's parents even came out on the field while he was placed on a stretcher. He was taken to the university's medical center and diagnosed with a severe concussion. He rejoined the team by the end of the game.