Auburn wins Iron Bowl
By By Mark Etheridge / special to The Star
Nov. 24, 2002
TUSCALOOSA, ALA When Alabama and Auburn get together, you can throw out the record books because anything could happen. It is a tired clich but appropriate as unranked Auburn knocked off ninth ranked Alabama 17-7 at sold-out Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday.
Auburn jumped out on Alabama for fourteen first-quarter points and never looked back. Auburn, playing without its top two running backs, looked to freshman Tre Smith to provide production. Smith logged 130 yards on 25 carries to carve his name into Iron Bowl lore.
Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell, maligned early in the season by Tuberville, executed like a seasoned veteran completing 10-of-18 passes for 169 yards and two scores, both to tight end Robert Johnson. Campbell also rushed for 41 yards.
Meanwhile Alabama outgained Auburn 320 to 298 but consistently hurt themselves with penalties. Alabama head coach Dennis Franchione admitted the penalties hurt but also felt his team did not make them plays they needed.
On the opening drive, Auburn caught the Bama defense flat-footed as quarterback Jason Campbell hit Anthony Mix for 45 yards on a third-and-one play. Alabama's defense stiffened and senior defensive end Kindal Moorehead sacked Campbell for a loss knocking the Tigers out of field goal range.
Alabama drove down the cusp of field goal range as well before Dontarrious Thomas hit Tyler Watts for a loss. Alabama elected to go for the first down on fourth and ten as opposed to attempting a fifty-two yard field goal. Under a heavy Tiger rush, Watts dumped the ball to running back Shaud Williams who was well short of the first down.
That must have fired up the Tigers as Smith burst through the Tide line and raced 52 yards to the Bama 16. One play later, Campbell found tight end Robert Johnson for a fifteen yard touchdown play. Damon Duval added the point to give Auburn the early seven point lead.
After penalties killed an Alabama drive, senior Lane Bearden punted to Auburn's Roderick Hood. Hood broke into the open and had one man to beat, the punter Bearden. Bearden, playing with a torn ACL, dropped Hood with a ferocious tackle at midfield. Campbell led the Tigers on a six play drive hooking up with Johnson uncovered in the end zone for another touchdown. Duvals extra point made it a fourteen point lead at the end of one quarter.
Auburn kept the pressure on after forcing another Bearden punt. Campbell had a twenty yard scramble to get the Tigers into field goal range where Damon Duval nailed a forty yarder extending the lead to seventeen.
Early in the second half, Alabama got the break it had been waiting for. Jarret Johnson deflected a Campbell pass and Waine Bacon pulled in the interception at the Auburn 46. Watts found Sam Collins for 17 yards and Williams raced for twelve on an option pitch. Santonio Beard reached paydirt on a two yard sweep.
Bama rolled the dice after moving to the Auburn 44 going for a fourth and six. Watts found Shaud Williams on a swing pass but he was stopped short of the needed yardage giving the ball back to the visitors.
A few minutes later Franchione was gambling once again. This time facing fourth and two on their own 37, the Crimson Tide offense remained on the field. Watts kept the ball on the option, turned his head upfield, and thanks to a generous spot, picked up the first down. After a holding penalty backed Bama up to 2nd and twenty, Franchione inserted freshman Brodie Croyle into the game at quarterback. Croyle scrambled for nine yards but his bomb for Dre Fulgham fell incomplete.
Croyle connected with Fulgham for 41 yards as Alabama tried to rally late. His 4th and twenty bomb for Collins was intercepted by Carlos Rogers to seal the game.
Shaud Williams led Alabama with 54 yards rushing and 43 yards receiving. Both Tide quarterbacks struggled to sustain drives. Watts finished 11-of-21 for 126 yards while Croyle totaled 7-of-16 for 83 yards. Senior defensive tackle Jarret Johnson led Alabama with seven tackles. Travaris Robinson led Auburn with ten stops.
Both teams have one game remaining. Auburn (8-4, 5-3) will go bowling. Alabama (9-3, 6-2) will travel to Hawaii to close their season next Saturday.