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SEC: Tigers savor unexpected win

©Associated Press

November 24, 2002


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Auburn dug deep into its tailback rotation and came up a winner.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Auburn dug deep into its tailback rotation and came up a winner.

Freshman sub Tre Smith ran for 126 yards and Jason Campbell threw two touchdowns to Robert Johnson as the Tigers upset Alabama 17-7 on Saturday.

"Nobody gave us a chance," said Smith, pressed into action by injuries to three players ahead of him. "Nobody in the whole country gave us a chance.

"Everybody was talking junk, about me especially, and the rest of the running backs."

The Tigers, 10 1/2-point underdogs, led 17-0 at halftime and used a stifling defense to shut down the SEC's top offense.

Auburn relied on Smith against the nation's top-rated defense because of injuries to Carnell Williams (broken leg), Ronnie Brown (sprained ankle) and Chris Butler (pulled groin). Fullback Brandon Johnson also did not play.

"That's a classic case of guys not being denied," coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We had one running back and he had (126) yards.

"It doesn't get any better than winning the Iron Bowl on the road."

The Crimson Tide had won five straight but couldn't score on three fourth-quarter trips across midfield.

Alabama turned it over on downs all three times.

The Tide took it to Auburn's 36-yard line with about five minutes left on Dre Fulgham's 40-yard catch-and-run. Then, Mark Brown sacked backup quarterback Brodie Croyle, and Croyle threw two straight incompletions before Carlos Rogers made the Tigers' 20th interception of the season with 3:15 to play.

Alabama drove to Auburn's 35 at the end of the game but came up short again.

The defense set up Alabama's only points, with Waine Bacon intercepting a deflected pass on the Tigers' second offensive play after halftime.

Santonio Beard capped the 46-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 6:40 left in the third. Alabama's offense, which has scored on 17 straight trips inside the opponent's 20-yard line, wouldn't make it that far again.

After the game, Auburn players took turns brandishing the school's banner in front of their fans before finally heading to the locker room, with several jumps into the stands. The visitors won for the fourth straight time in the Iron Bowl; Auburn was hammered 31-7 last season. The Tide has been outscored 91-7 on its campus in the rivalry.

* * *

LSU 14, MISSISSIPPI 13: Marcus Randall came off the bench and threw two touchdowns for the host Tigers.

LSU stayed atop the Western Division and ensured that the winner of Friday's game against Arkansas will face Georgia Dec. 7 in the SEC title game.

Mississippi lost its fifth straight. The Rebels had won four of the previous five in the series, including the previous three in Baton Rouge.

Rick Clausen started in place of Randall. The Tigers were 2-2 with Randall as the starter, and he struggled in the previous three games, including losses to Auburn and Alabama.

Clausen, a left-hander who had not played with a game on the line since high school, completed 2 of 6 passes for 9 yards. He was intercepted once and fumbled twice. He recovered both but lost 17 yards.

ARKANSAS 26, MISSISSIPPI ST. 19: De'Arrius Howard ran for a career-high 121 yards for the visiting Razorbacks, who held off a fourth-quarter rally.

Arkansas has won five straight and can earn a spot in the SEC title game against East division champion Georgia by beating LSU on Friday. MSU plays Mississippi on Thanksgiving night, trying to avoid its first winless SEC season since 1988.

Matt Jones threw two touchdowns for Arkansas but attempted only 14 passes as the No. 1 rushing team in the SEC stuck to its strength against the porous Bulldogs.

Mark Pierce scored twice for the Razorbacks, including a 5-yard run early in the fourth quarter that made the score 26-6.

On fourth and 7, Arkansas' Lawrence Richardson got his hands on Kyle York's pass intended for Antonio Hargro. But the ball was deflected high into the air, and Hargro cradled it for a 21-yard touchdown that made it 26-12. The Bulldogs failed on the 2-point conversion.

York was 11-for-22 for 174 yards and two scores, including a 26-yarder to Ray Ray Bivines with 3:20 left that cut the lead to 26-19.

The Bulldogs recovered the ensuing onside kick at their 47 and reached the Arkansas 20, but Tony Bua stuffed York trying to scramble for a first down on fourth and 5 with just more than a minute left.

TENNESSEE 24, VANDERBILT 0: Cedric Houston had his fourth straight 100-yard game, but he's not taking much credit.

"These last couple games our offensive line has come out and dominated," he said after leading the visiting Vols. "Offensively we are getting in more of a rhythm."

Houston ran for 140 yards and a touchdown as Tennessee relied on its ground game to defeat the Commodores for the 20th consecutive time. His score came early in the second quarter when he found a hole and ran 3 yards to put Tennessee up 15-0.

Casey Clausen started after missing the Vols' win the previous week with an ankle injury. He finished 12-of-22 for 120 yards.

Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer stressed the importance of a strong running game.

"We're not getting a lot of help from our wide receivers and Casey's not 100 percent, so we need to run the ball," he said.

Tennessee finished with 50 rushes for 242 yards, including a 1-yard score by Jabari Davis. Tennessee outgained the Commodores 371-196.

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