Auburn Makes History in Its 'Finest Hour'

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM Gene Chizik
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
Gene Chizik
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

Dec. 4, 2010


By Jack Smith

Auburn made history at the Georgia Dome on Saturday--emphatically punching its ticket to the school's first BCS National Championship game with a dominating 56-17 win over South Carolina.

The only thing lacking in the Tigers' romp over the 19th-ranked Gamecocks was the drama that has marked so many of Auburn's victories this season.

Auburn roared out to a 21-7 lead by the end of the first quarter and came up with the play of the night only seconds after the Gamecocks pulled to within one touchdown with :16 remaining in the first half.

On the final play of the half, Cam Newton rolled to his right and flung the ball 51 yards into the end zone on a Hail Mary heave that deflected off a Carolina defender and into the hands of receiver Darvin Adams. The miraculous touchdown put Auburn up 28-14--and put down any hopes of a Carolina rally.

Adams, who had his own record-setting performance with 217 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns, described the improbable, game-defining score as all but routine.

"I just kept my eye on the ball," Adams said. "That's all I was thinking was to catch the ball."

Auburn's unstoppable offense, which rolled up an SEC Championship game record 589 yards, picked up where it left off in the first half with a 75-yard touchdown drive on its first possession of the third quarter. Newton, who threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more on the night, bulled over Gamecock linebacker Antonio Allen on a one-yard touchdown run to put Auburn ahead 35-14.

The Auburn defense then put the game away minutes later when T'Sharvan Bell intercepted a pass and ran it in for a touchdown to give Auburn a 42-14 lead.

Auburn, which torched Carolina with a devastating passing game all night, then put together a dominating 13-play, 91-yard scoring drive that included 13 runs. The drive was finished off with Newton's 7-yard scoring toss to Emory Blake.

Newton left the game to a rousing ovation, hugged his head coach and, in a fitting scene, embraced former Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson on the Auburn bench.

Even with Newton on the sidelines celebrating with his teammates, the Auburn offense still couldn't be stopped. Back-up quarterback Barrett Trotter led an 81-yard scoring drive that ended with senior tailback Mario Fannin's 6-yard touchdown run.

Newton even engineered a Gatorade bath for Chizik before being carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates.

Confetti rained down on a jubilant Auburn team at the post-game trophy presentation, when Newton was named MVP. Chizik credited his players, coaches and Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs for "doing it the right way" and making the dreams of the Auburn family come true.

Senior center Ryan Pugh, the anchor of Auburn's veteran offensive line, had a simple explanation when asked how his team managed to rise to what Chizik called its "finest hour" in a season of memorable moments.

"We weren't going to be denied," Pugh said. "We wanted our spot in the game, and we weren't going to be denied."

Chizik tried to put the dominating win, and Auburn's historic season, into perspective in an emotional post-game talk with his team in the locker room.

"I don't know how you've done it all year long, but I know 13-0 is dang hard to do," Chizik said. "You made history, and no one--I'm talking no one--gave you a chance to make history 15 weeks ago."

Chizik told his team to savor the win but reminded them their work isn't done.

"I want you to be proud," Chizik said, "but I want you to be humble, because that's how Auburn does it. I know this. We're the SEC champs, but we got one more to go."