No. 2 Auburn Holds Off South Carolina

Friday, September 29th 2006, 9:01 am
By: News On 6

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ Tommy Tuberville and No. 2 Auburn did everything right _ from taking on former Gamecocks runner Kenny Irons, to calling for an onsides kick at the perfect time to having the right defender in the right place when it mattered most.

It all led to the Tigers' 24-17 victory over South Carolina that kept their unbeaten season alive Thursday night.

Irons led Auburn (5-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) with 117 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Tuberville showed his gambler side with a third-quarter onsides kick that caught the Gamecocks (3-2, 1-2) by surprise. And defensive back Patrick Lee was there to tip away South Carolina's fourth-down, last-second pass to Sidney Rice in the end zone.

``I am not a rocket scientist,'' Tuberville says, ``but I could pretty much figure out it was going to either'' Rice or Kenny McKinley, who caught eight passes for 110 yards.

Rice ``is tall and fortunately for us, we had our tallest corner on that side,'' Tuberville said.

In the only other game involving a ranked team, BYU ended No. 17 TCU's 13-game win streak with a 31-17 victory.

Auburn's onsides kick helped it run all 28 offensive plays in the third quarter _ something Tuberville or Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier can't remember being a part of.

``It just worked,'' Tuberville said. ``Sometimes they do. I could also be sitting her explaining why it didn't if it didn't work.''

Irons had his 10th career 100-yard game _ all of them since leaving the Gamecocks after the 2003 season.

``This game meant a lot,'' Irons said. ``I have a lot of people doubting me and everything, but I've got a great ball team.''

Auburn has won 19 of its past 20 regular-season SEC games.

Still, the Gamecocks almost made a stunning comeback, rallying from 24-10 with a 25-yard touchdown catch by Jared Cook and driving near the goal line in the final minute.

``It hurts because we were so close,'' quarterback Syvelle Newton said. ``It's always good to come in, compete and play hard. We fell a little short.''

Auburn grabbed control in the third quarter with its passing game.

Brandon Cox went 9-for-13 for 125 yards during the period to keep Auburn moving and the South Carolina offense off the field.

On the opening drive of the second half, Cox hit Lee Guess for 12 yards on third-and-11. The quarterback later connected with Tommy Trott on an 11-yarder that set up John Vaughn's 24-yard field goal.

Cox continued firing after Auburn's onsides kick.

He had an 18-yard pass to Courtney Taylor, an 8-yarder to Robert Dunn on fourth-and-6 and a 25-yarder to Taylor on third-and-21.

Irons finished the drive on the first play of the fourth quarter, scoring on fourth-and-goal from the 1 to put Auburn ahead 24-10.

``We've got to throw the ball more. We know that,'' Tuberville said.

For their final chance, it was natural for Newton to look for Rice _ the two hooked up for five touchdowns last Saturday against Florida Atlantic. But Lee was there to make sure Rice didn't grab this one.

``It's like I told the guys, we're not good enough to beat a team like Auburn,'' Spurrier said.

BYU 31, No. 17 TCU 17

At Fort Worth, Texas, John Beck threw for 321 yards and three second-half touchdowns to help BYU end TCU's winning streak at 13 games. The streak was the longest in NCAA Division I-A.

BYU (3-2, 1-0 Mountain West) beat a Top 25 team for the first time since 1999, a stretch of 12 games since a victory over Colorado State. TCU (3-1, 0-1) hadn't lost since a 21-10 defeat at SMU in the second game last season.

Jeff Ballard, who was 26-of-49 for 296 yards with a touchdown and an interception, lost for the first time in 12 starts as TCU's quarterback. He has started every game since taking over late in the third quarter at BYU last September when the Frogs trailed by 16 points, then rallied to win 51-50 in overtime.