Auburn offense scores TDs on final five drives
By FLETCHER PAGE
AUBURN Ala. — With the score tied at halftime, Georgia’s defenders said, they had defended Auburn and Heisman Trophy hopeful Cam Newton fairly well.
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The Bulldogs rallied after allowing a touchdown on the opening drive, forcing a turnover and two punts to stymie the No. 1 offense in the SEC.
But Georgia didn’t sustain the success.
Newton, who finished with four touchdowns, and the Tigers’ offense came to life, scoring five touchdowns on its final five drives of the game to win 49-31.
“Cam Newton is a magnificent athlete,” Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo said. “He’s very, very tough to defend.”
In a game in which both offenses were scoring handily, the Georgia defense failed to get a much-needed stop in the second half. The Tigers scored a touchdown on every possession in the second half, clinching the SEC Western Division.
The run of Auburn scores turned a close game into an easy victory.
“It was hard, man,” Georgia senior linebacker Akeem Dent said. “It was very frustrating. We went out and fought hard. We gave what we had. But they played a good game.”
Newton produced his usual line of statistics Saturday. He had two touchdowns rushing, piling up 151 yards on 30 carries. He added two touchdowns passing, finishing 12-of-15 for 148 yards.
“We expected it,” Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin said. “We knew they had a quarterback that could run the ball. We knew all these things coming in. We prepared for it, and we couldn’t get it done.”
Although the stats show a typical Auburn offensive explosion, Georgia had success in the first half.
After Newton’s 31-yard touchdown run on the Tigers’ first drive, the Bulldogs got stops on three of the next four drives.
Rambo intercepted a Newton pass on the Tigers’ second drive of the game. The next series of downs saw the Tigers run six plays and punt.
Behind the defensive stops, Georgia built a 21-7 lead.
“We came out of there with a lot of momentum from the first half,” Boykin said. “We hit them in the mouth, and they didn’t really expect that. We knew it was going to be a fourth-quarter fight. I don’t think we came out with the same intensity. We didn’t step up to the challenge.”
The Tigers’ style of offense employed reverses, Newton keepers and misdirection plays Georgia didn’t consistently defend.
“We knew they were going to run the ball,” Georgia outside linebacker Justin Houston said. “We just couldn’t stop them.”
When all the scoring was done, the Tigers had racked up 315 yards rushing, averaging 5.5 per carry. Onterio McCalebb added three touchdowns rushing, and Michael Dyer had 60 yards. Newton, McCalebb and Dyer finished with 55 carries, methodically wearing down the Georgia defense.
“They got skill guys … all three of those backs are good players,” Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “They’re each a little different so they complement each other well.”
Auburn finished with 28 first downs and held the ball for more than 34 minutes.
“In the second half, we had people in the wrong place, and they weren’t where they needed to be,” Houston said. “They capitalized on a lot of our mistakes.”