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Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis ejected for targeting in first quarter against Vanderbilt

Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis signals to teammates early in the first quarter against Vanderbilt Saturday Nov. 5, 2016 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis signals to teammates early in the first quarter against Vanderbilt Saturday Nov. 5, 2016 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn didn’t maintain the calm and cool demeanor he’s recently boasted about Saturday when officials upheld a first-half targeting call on linebacker Deshaun Davis.

Malzahn frantically called every official within sight to the sidelines so they could hear exactly what he thought about the call.

“That’s bull crap, that’s bull crap,” Malzahn yelled.

Davis was flagged for the penalty midway through the first quarter. The sophomore launched himself at Vanderbilt wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb on a short slant route.

As Lipscomb was turning to make the catch, Davis bowled him over to disrupt the play. Davis shot up to celebrate the hit, but missed the officials throwing the flag.

All targeting calls made by the on-field officials are reviewed in collaboration with offsite officials.

The group confirmed that Davis led with the crown of his helmet on the replay, which led to an automatic ejection.

Davis is eligible to return next week when Auburn plays Georgia.

Auburn linebacker Tre’ Williams was ejected for targeting earlier this season against LSU for a hit on quarterback Danny Etling.

Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele wouldn’t say if he thought Williams did anything wrong on the play, but didn’t criticize the officials either.

“The biggest thing you have to understand is, we have a responsibility that is very, very serious in this game, because it’s our game and we have to take care of it,” Steele said.

Davis’ ejection left Auburn without both its starting linebackers Saturday. Williams dressed for the game, but the left leg injury he suffered against Ole Miss kept him on the sidelines.

Montavius Atkinson earned his first career start and little used graduate transfer T.J. Neal came in to replace Davis. Neal had six tackles, four solo, with one for a loss at the half.

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

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