McCluster, Grandy Not Enough For Rebels At Auburn
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - Chris Todd passed for 212 yards, Ben Tate ran for 144 yards and Walt McFadden returned an interception for a touchdown to lift Auburn to a 33-20 win over No. 22 Ole Miss on Saturday.
The Tigers (6-3, 3-3 SEC) scored 23 points in the third quarter and turned away Jevan Snead and the Rebels (5-3, 2-3) seven times on drives to midfield or beyond.
Ole Miss had appeared to get back on track with two straight wins but couldn't overcome a frenzied third-quarter flurry that led to a 24-point hole.
McFadden stopped the Rebels' final chance by stepping in front of Snead's pass near the Auburn goal line for his second pick in the final minutes. He also had a 29-yard return for a score in the third quarter.
Auburn got its offense going after dropping three straight games and raising fears of another late-season collapse. The Tigers dropped six of their last seven in 2008.
The teams traded huge momentum swings in the third quarter, combining for a wild 36 points. Auburn nearly reached its 24-point total of the previous two games.
The Tigers scored two touchdowns in 12 seconds to take a 24-7 lead with 11:25 left. First, Wildcat quarterback Kodi Burns tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tommy Trott. On the next play, McFadden snagged the ball with his right hand after it bounced off the hands of Markeith Summers, then shook off Summers and headed to the end zone.
Tate then scampered 53 yards for a score, becoming the fifth Auburn back to surpass 3,000 career yards.
Ole Miss couldn't finish most of its sustained drives, but stayed alive with two big plays.
Jesse Grandy answered with an 82-yard kick return to push the margin back to 17 points, then the game got even wilder. Dexter McCluster sprinted 79 yards for a touchdown to make it 31-20. Joshua Shene's point after attempt hit a teammate in the back and Demond Washington returned it all the way for two points.
Ole Miss had a nice chance to pull to within a touchdown midway through the fourth. Todd lost a fumble - and 21 yards - when he appeared to try to flick the ball away while going down. The Rebels recovered at Auburn's 24, but lost 21 yards on three plays and a penalty.
It was typical of Ole Miss's day of missed chances. McCluster had his second straight huge game, rushing for 186 yards on 22 carries and catching four passes for another 17 a week after racking up 260 all-purpose yards.
Snead couldn't get going, completing 16 of 35 passes for 175 yards - 105 courtesy of Shay Hodge - and a touchdown and was hurt by several dropped passes.
Todd was 12-of-22 passing after managing just 127 yards the past two games combined. He hit a wide-open Darvin Adams for a 28-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Ole Miss opened the game by breezing 94 yards for a touchdown without facing a third-down play but trailed 10-7 at halftime. Three Tigers had shots at recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff, but the Rebels got it instead and Snead cashed in with a 7-yard touchdown pass to fullback Andy Hartman.
Ole Miss was 2 of 4 on fourth-down conversions and converted 3 of 15 attempts on third down.
Auburn safety Zac Etheridge sustained a neck injury after a helmet-to-helmet collision with teammate Antonio Coleman. His status wasn't immediately available.
Auburn 33, Ole Miss 20, 3Q 6:04: The wild third quarter continues, as on the next Rebel possession, McCluster rockets between tackles for a career-long 79-yard TD run. However, the extra point was blocked and Demond Washington scooped the ball and raced the length of the field for two points.
Auburn 31, Ole Miss 14, 3Q 7:28: Rebels answer immediately back, as Jesse Grandy returns the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for his second TD return of the year. The freshman, who is only in his fourth game on returns, is only the third Rebel to return two kickoffs for TDs in the same season and the first since John Avery in 1996. The other is Vernon Studdard in 1970.
Auburn 31, Ole Miss 7, 3Q 7:42: Ole Miss is facing its largest deficit of the season, as the Tigers score the third straight time they touch it. Ben Tate gallops 53 yards for the TD to top the century mark for the day.
Auburn 24, Ole Miss 7, 3Q 11:25: The ball is not bouncing the Rebels way. On the first play of Ole Miss' drive, Markeith Summers dives to catch a short pass, and as he falls to the ground, the ball bounces off his fingertips and up in the air, where Walter McFadden grabs it and returns it 29 yards for the score. The play was reviewed and upheld.
Auburn 17, Ole Miss 7, 3Q 11:37: Auburn strikes again through the air to extend their lead. Todd hooks up with Terrell Zachary for 41 yards, and two plays later, finds Tommy Trott open in the end zone for the 14-yard TD to cap a three-play, 61-yard drive.
Auburn 10, Ole Miss 7, 2Q 5:23: After a scoring drought for both clubs, Auburn takes the lead on a 28-yard scoring toss from Chris Todd to Darvin Adams, who got behind the secondary and was wide open in the end zone. The play came on the heels of a 42-yard catch by Adams.
Ole Miss 7, Auburn 3, 1Q 8:06: Auburn answers with a 36-yard FG from Wes Byrum. Helped along by a kickoff out of bounds, the Tigers opened at their own 40 and rumbled 41 yards in seven plays and used a couple long flat passes from Chris Todd to Mario Fannin for 18 yards and Eric Smith for 17.
Ole Miss 7, Auburn 0, 1Q 10:31: After almost losing the ball on the opening kickoff, the Rebels' recover Jesse Grandy's fumble on the six yardline and mount a 94-yard drive, capped by a 7-yard TD toss from Jevan Snead to Andy Hartmann. Brandon Bolden highlighted the drive, which was the Rebels' longest of the year, with a career-long 43-yard catch.
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