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Auburn wins third straight with rout of Mississippi St.

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 20, 2002

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Daniel Cobb threw three touchdowns in the second quarter and Carnell Williams rushed for two touchdowns in the fourth as Auburn beat Mississippi State 42-14 Thursday night.

Cobb was 1-for-9 in the first quarter for the Tigers, who have won three straight and are 3-1, 2-1 in the Southeastern Conference.

"Is that what I was? Oh man. That's pretty bad," he said.

The senior, who has had an up-and-down career, caught an early break when an interception returned for a touchdown by Mississippi State was nullified when the play was blown dead because of an Auburn penalty.

Cobb settled down and finished 10-for-21 for a season-high 183 yards with no interceptions.

"We weren't going to pull him," said Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, who spent last season shuffling between Cobb and Jason Campbell. Cobb had to beat out Campbell in the preseason for the starting job.

Kevin Fant passed well when he had time to throw for Mississippi State. He was 19-for-31 for 215 yards with an interception and two fumbles while under steady pressure.

The Bulldogs (1-2, 0-1) had six turnovers.

Fant's second fumble was caused and recovered by Reggie Torbor and gave Auburn the ball at the Bulldogs 17 with 10:30 left in the fourth quarter. About a minute later Williams went off tackle to the left for a 5-yard touchdown that made it 35-14.

"Turnovers kill you, especially when you play a good team like Auburn," Fant said.

Williams, who came at 7.4 yards per carry, never broke a big run, but showed his toughness with 106 yards on 28 carries.

Cobb also showed grit in the third quarter.

He was scrambling away from a rush when he was cut down by Jason Clark and finished off by 299-pound Ronald Fields, who landed on top of him. Cobb left for one play with a bruised left shoulder but returned on the next series.

Dontae Walker had two 1-yard touchdown runs to cap long drives by Mississippi State. The first started the scoring late in the first quarter. The other completed a 16-play, 65-yard march on the first possession of the second half to cut Auburn's lead to 21-14.

The Tigers tied it at 7 in the second quarter when 6-foot-5 Anthony Mix reached over 5-10 Richard Ball to grab Cobb's pass in the end zone for a 16-yard score

Ball was involved in the Tigers' second score as the Bulldogs had a dismal final five minutes of the half. Damon Duval's punt took a backward bounce deep in Mississippi State territory and glanced off Ball's heel. Auburn recovered at the 13.

Three plays and an Auburn penalty later, Cobb hit Marcel Willis on a slant and the receiver carried a tackler into the end zone for a 17-yard score. That gave the Tigers a 14-7 lead.

Cobb's third TD pass came right before halftime.

The Tigers took over at the Bulldogs' 47 with 28 seconds left. On their second play, Cobb found Ben Obomanu streaking down the right sideline against single coverage for a 45-yard touchdown and 21-7 lead.

COWBELLS CLANG: The cowbells are still clanging at Mississippi State.

As the Bulldogs opened their SEC season with a loss against Auburn, a new conference rule that penalizes the home team 15 yards if fans use artificial noisemakers didn't deter Mississippi State supporters from chiming in.

Cowbells could be heard and seen all over Scott Field.

Much was made during the summer when SEC university presidents passed the rule. Most Bulldogs fans were furious, feeling it was aimed directly at their beloved cowbells.

Bulldogs coach Jackie Sherrill also expressed dismay at the rule. Just as Sherrill vowed, the sound of clanging cowbells is occasionally piped into the stadium during breaks in play.

The conference had a ban on artificial noisemakers before the summer vote -- just no penalty to back it up. That rule has done little over the years to keep cowbells out of Scott Field, though.

As usual, some cowbells were confiscated by security guards from fans entering the stadium.

There were no penalties called for artificial noisemakers.

MIAMI: Andre Johnson will start at wide receiver against Boston College on Saturday, but he won't return kickoffs.

Johnson was held out against Temple last weekend after arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder. He is tied for second on the team with seven receptions.

Running back Jarrett Payton will start his second straight game returning kickoffs, coach Larry Coker said.

MINNESOTA: Home games against Illinois and Northwestern -- both originally scheduled for Saturdays -- have been moved to Thursday nights to accommodate potential Twins playoff games. The Illinois game is Oct. 3 and the Northwestern game is Oct. 10.

OHIO STATE: Coach Jim Tressel said injured tailback Maurice Clarett won't start and might not play Saturday at Cincinnati. Clarett had arthroscopic surgery Tuesday on his right knee. Lydell Ross of Gaither likely will start.

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