October 4, 2003
AUBURN (AP) -- Carnell Williams ran for 185 yards and resurgent Auburn made a late defensive stand to beat No. 7 Tennessee 28-21 on Saturday night.
Jason Campbell had two touchdown passes for Auburn (3-2, 2-0 Southeastern Conference), which has won five of its last seven games against Top 10 teams.
The Tigers finally showcased their heralded tailbacks in a marquee game with their third straight lopsided victory after an 0-2 start that dropped them out of the rankings.
The Volunteers (4-1, 2-1) abandoned their own star tailbacks from the outset, trying to ride Casey Clausen's passing to the victory. The result was an anemic running game that netted 4 yards on 16 carries, 184 yards below their season average.
Clausen nearly pulled it off, throwing two fourth-quarter touchdown passes before a late interception. He led the Vols to the Auburn 29 after converting a fourth-and-15 with a 22-yarder to Chris Hannon, who dropped a pass downfield on the previous play.
Clausen rushed 10 yards for another first down and was hit out of bounds to give Tennessee a first down at the Auburn 29. Carlos Rogers picked off a pass intended for Mark Jones on the next play.
The Vols had taken over at their own 29 with 1:52 left and no timeouts after John Vaughn pushed a 46-yard field goal wide right.
Tennessee largely ignored tailbacks Cedric Houston and Jabari Davis, putting the game on Clausen's arm. Two of the league's top 10 rushers, they combined for only 14 yards on nine carries for Tennessee.
Auburn's offense was decidedly more workmanlike behind Williams, who got his first 100-yard game of the season with a 36-carry effort. The Tigers amassed 264 rushing yards, the most allowed by the Vols since Kansas State gained 297 in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 2001.
The running game helped Auburn hold onto the ball for more than 36 minutes and negated Clausen's 355-yard performance. He completed 30 of 47 passes, a career-high for attempts and matching his highest completion number.
The Tigers made it 28-7 early in the fourth quarter. Campbell set up an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cole Bennett with a play-action fake, rolling right and hitting his wide-open target. It was only his second pass of the half.
With a perfect 11-0 road mark as a starter, Clausen wasn't going quietly and countered with two touchdown passes. He hit Mark Jones on a 16-yarder and Hannon on a 28-yarder, capping two drives that took less than five minutes off the clock.
Williams' 1-yard plunge gave Auburn a 21-7 lead with 4:38 left in the third quarter, his eighth straight rush. The Tigers ran it on 11 straight plays
The Vols' first two second-half drives ended with a missed field goal and a fumble in Auburn territory.