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Auburn hangs on by 4 yards

In a defensive battle, Eric Brock stops Craig Davis short of the goal line for a 7-3 victory.

By TIMES WIRES
Published September 17, 2006


AUBURN, Ala. - The instructions were simple for the final play of Auburn's latest slugfest with LSU.

"The coaches told us anything we see in front of us, you hit it," Auburn safety Eric Brock said.

He did.

Brock's tackle 4 yards from the goal line preserved No. 3 Auburn's 7-3 win over No. 6 LSU on Saturday.

What has become the conference's most rugged rivalry (the past three meetings decided by a combined eight points with Auburn winning two) had all the usual elements: punishing defenses, a pivotal officials call that left both sides perplexed and follies in the kicking game.

The call went Auburn's way.

With LSU facing fourth and 8 from the Auburn 31 and 2:43 left, JaMarcus Russell fired the ball to Early Doucet near the goal line. A diving Brock deflected the pass, but Zach Gilbert was called for pass interference. The officials, though, overturned the call because of the tip even though replays showed the contact came before.

"I got sick to my stomach," said Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville about seeing the flag. "I still don't understand it. It's just a judgment call, and thank goodness it went our way."

LSU's Les Miles wasn't happy.

"If the ball is tipped at the line of scrimmage, there is no pass interference," he said. "The ball was tipped downfield."

Auburn got the ball, but Kenny Irons was stopped on three runs.

LSU drove to the Auburn 24 with 2.5 seconds left as Russell hit Craig Davis for passes of 20 and 21 yards and Dwayne Bowe for 21. On the final play, Russell went to Davis again. The receiver caught the pass inside the 10, but Brock stopped him at the 4.

"It was a low throw on the final play, but it was not JaMarcus' fault," Davis said. "I was expecting it to be a jump ball in the end zone."

The win, coupled with Notre Dame's 47-21 loss to Michigan, could push Auburn to No. 2 in the poll.

"This was a statement game," cornerback David Irons said. "It let everyone know we're for real."

The defense certainly is. LSU had five drives inside Auburn territory end with no points in the lowest scoring game at Auburn since 1973.

It's the first time since 1972 the teams met with both in the Top 10, and it lived up to the hype mostly thanks to a pair of blitzing defenses.

"It was a very violent game," Tuberville said. "There was more speed than I've seen on the field in a long time. It's hard to find a loser in that game.

"Our guys played like champions. When you look at the score and the stats, everybody would think it was a boring game, but there was a lot of excitement."

LSU's 3-0 halftime lead was based on two field goals: John Vaughn's 26-yard miss for Auburn and Colt David's 42-yarder to end the half. Vaughn, who missed five field goals in last year's overtime loss, sent the kick off the left upright with 4:15 left in the half.

Auburn finally scored on Brandon Cox's 1-yard sneak with 4:53 left in the third, ending a 12-play drive powered by the tackle-breaking Irons and completions of 17 and 19 yards. Cox said he was surprised by the call.

"I don't think we've ever run that quarterback sneak on the goal line," he said.

"Usually it's Kenny right and Kenny left."