Russell's Rally Comes Up Short at No. 3 Auburn, 7-3

by (@LSUsports)
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Russell's Rally Comes Up Short at No. 3 Auburn, 7-3

AUBURN, Ala. — After a hard-fought defensive struggle, No. 6 LSU came up four yards short of beating rival No. 3 Auburn. Instead, the Tigers from the Plains held off a drive by LSU in the final seconds to win, 7-3, on Saturday.

LSU (2-1, 0-1 SEC) surrendered its first touchdown in four games, but wasn’t able to get into the Auburn endzone with a last gasp effort in the final minute.

Late in the fourth quarter, Auburn (3-0, 1-0 SEC) made a gamble and lost on third-and-1 from its 47. Rather than handing off to Irons or going over center, Cox held the ball behind his back on the play action but didn’t have a receiver open deep and passed incomplete.

Auburn’s Cody Bliss punted to the LSU 19, where the Tigers took over.

Russell threw a strike for 37 yards to Early Doucet that gave LSU new life. Three plays later, LSU was forced into a fourth-and-8 sitution after the three rushes went for two yards. Russell’s pass to Doucet inside the 5-yard line was battled away, as was the pass interference penalty on Auburn that was picked up long after the play.

LSU stopped Auburn three-and-out, but had only 66 seconds to get into the endzone after a fair catch by Chevis Jackson at the LSU 20-yard line.

A long pass down the left sideline to Craig Davis fell incomplete, but two of the same variety for 20 and 21 yards to Davis got LSU to the Auburn 40.

Russell, who had orchestrated six fourth-quarter comebacks in 18 career starts, then stepped up in the pocket to hit Bowe for a 21-yard gain to the 19-yard line with only 14.2 seconds left in the game.

A penalty pushed LSU to the 24-yard line with one play left and 2.5 seconds. Russell’s pass to Davis on the left sideline was caught with no time remaining — four yards short of the endzone — when he was tackled before he could take a step toward the goal line.

The Auburn celebration ensued.

The loss was LSU’s first on the road since Oct. 2, 2004, at No. 3 Georgia (45-16).

Russell finished 20-of-35 passing for 269 yards without being intercepted. Again, he and the Tigers weren’t able to get into the endzone against Auburn despite out-gaining Auburn, 309-182.

Though neither team managed 100 yards rushing, it was LSU’s inability to establish the run throughout the game that may have been the difference maker. LSU rushed 23 times for 42 net yards.

Auburn wasn’t that much better, but got 70 yards from stud running back Kenny Irons on 25 carries. The Tigers finished with 72 yards on 38 rushes, including four sacks for minus-29 yards.

Auburn’s punter, Bliss, provided much needed field position throughout the day for Auburn, averaging 48.2 yards on six punts with a long of 62.

LSU’s lone score of the game came on the last play of the first half when placekicker Colt David hit a career-best 42-yard field goal to give the LSU Tigers a 3-0 lead at the half.

In the defensive struggle that was the first half, the offenses managed just 153 of total offense — LSU 93, Auburn 60.

The difference in the half was a John Vaughn missed 26-yard field goal that hit the left upright and bounced away harmlessly.

LSU led 3-0 at the break.

The only touchdown of the game came with 4:53 left in the third quarter, when Cox took the quarterback sneak from 1 yard out on third-and-goal. During the 12-play, 75-yard drive, Irons carried eight times for 38 yards.

LSU Post-Game Quotes
Auburn vs. LSU
September 16, 2006

Les Miles, Head Coach
On the game…
“We have a disappointed group of men. It was a hell of a ballgame. Congratulations to Auburn. The loss will be difficult to handle. Both teams deserve better. The guys played their hearts out. Give credit to Auburn. They played extremely well and it was a damn exciting finish.

“The defense played well and I couldn’t be happier with how they played.

“If someone had told me we won the turnover battle, had over 300 yards and out-gained our opponent, I would have thought it would have been a different outcome.”

On the last play…
“We would have liked to have thrown the ball in the end zone and made a play. The clock ran out. We would have liked to extended the route. Our quarterback played extremely well all day, he just needed to put a little air under the ball at the end of the game.”

On LSU’s mindset following the game…
“For any team that worked this hard, this is going to hurt. This is a very good football team. It is one that has ambitious goals yet to fulfill.”

On the pass interference play that was overturned…
“The explanation was not readily forthcoming. I’m waiting and the officials say he tipped the ball. I know the rule, if the ball is tipped at the line of scrimmage, there is no pass interference. The ball was tipped downfield. The proper explanation will be forthcoming.

“There were two calls that concerned me. I am not in a position to be critical of the officials. One was the ball we picked off that we were flagged for pass interference on. The pass interference didn’t disable him from catching the ball. The other was virtually the same thing. It was a tipped ball.”

On Auburn’s touchdown drive…
“They had had a nice mix of play selection and they made several plays. They had a play to the fullback, they hit a slant and they ran the toss-sweep all day. They were very efficient. It is hard for me to be critical of our defense.”

Jacob Hester, FB
On the game…
“We have to bounce back and be ready for the next game. Last year we lost at Tennessee early and came back to play in the SEC Championship game. We just have to play our game. It is very frustrating. We have to be better running the ball.
“It is hard to go undefeated in this conference. Teams in the top five don’t know how tough this conference is.”

On punting on fourth-and-one…
“I definitely wanted to go for it, but it is a coaches decision in the end. When they went for it on fourth down and got it, it took a lot out of us.”

Craig Davis, WR
On the last play…
“I ran the wheel route. I was trying to get the back corner pileon. Unfortunately, the ball got there too late. It was kind of a flat throw, but it was a good play call. They had put defensive ends and (JaMarcus Russell) may have been under pressure, but I had a feeling I was close enough.”

On the last drive…
“We have practiced that situation every Monday and Thursday. I knew we would go down the field and the red zone became a lot tougher. It was a low throw on the final play, but it was not JaMarcus’ fault. I was expecting it to be a jump ball in the endzone.”

Dwayne Bowe, WR
Thoughts on the game…
“We treated this game just like any other game and wanted to go out there and play hard and hope to get the job done.” 

On the offense struggling to move the ball…
“We played against a pretty good defense.  We just had a hard time running the ball.  We are going to make some adjustments and just come out next week and improve our running game.  On the last play I was running across the field, scrambling, just trying to make the play happen.  JaMarcus made the right read but it just didn’t happen for us.”

JaMarcus Russell, QB
On his performance…
“I think I did a good job.  Toward the end I just could have made quicker decisions.”

On Auburn…
“They have a good defense.  You can’t take anything away from them.  On our behalf we need to have better execution.”

On playing in his home state…
“It would have been great to come back and get a win.  We will just have to step it up next week in practice and get after Tulane. 

Darry Beckwith, LB
On his effort today…
“I think we came out and we were prepared.  We had a good game plan coming in and I think we came out and executed it but tonight just wasn’t our night.  We gave a great effort, it just didn’t go our way.” 

On the one touchdown difference…
“As a defense we want to dominate our opponents.  We knew going into today that it was going to be a tough game and we were going to have to stop them.  It just didn’t work out tonight.

On the final play…
“We were hoping we could run it in and the offense fought hard.  They had some good plays at the end, but it just didn’t fall our way. 

Early Doucet, WR
General thoughts…
“We had our ups and downs and we had our chances to win but we just didn’t capitalize on some of those opportunities.  I think we came up short a few times but I think our running backs played hard and our offensive line blocked well.  It was just a great team effort.  When you are down and to have drives like we had, it says a lot about our team in that we won’t give up.  This is going to be learning experience for us and we are going to learn from the mistakes that we made tonight and just move forward.  We have nine games left to play in the season.”

On the pass interference call…
“I was disappointed with the call.  I thought I was interfered with but it is the referee’s job to make those kind of calls.  It is also the coaches’ job to dispute those calls with the referees.  It wasn’t going to be a call that was going to be overturned so we just had to move on and try to make other plays.  I felt like the guy held my arm and swung me around.  I don’t even know if the ball was tipped but I do know that I was interfered with before I was able to make the catch.”

Glenn Dorsey, DT
On the game going down to the wire…
“It was just another one of those incredible Auburn vs. LSU games.  This says it all right here ? this is the SEC and I just love it.  I wouldn’t want to be at another place right now then this Auburn vs. LSU game.  Even though we came away with a loss, I am pleased with how our defense and their efforts throughout the entire game.”

Auburn Post-Game Quotes
Auburn vs. LSU
Saturday September 16, 2006

Auburn Head Coach Tommy Tuberville
“It was a hard fought game in both sides.  LSU has a heck of a football team.  They played hard and physical and our guys played hard and physical.  That was basically why it was 7-3.  Al (Borges) didn’t take a lot of chances, and I didn’t need to when we got that little lead there.  I want to take my hat off to all the players and how they held in there.  We lost Patrick Lee in warmup.  He got a violent fever in warmup.  He didn’t play and that knocked us down one.  In the middle of the second quarter, Jonathan Wilhite goes out with a pulled ham(string).  We’re down to a third team corner, and there are real good receivers on the other side.  Those kids stepped up.  It was good to see guys have to rise to another level.  Cole Bennett hurt his ankle, and Pat Sims also got hurt.  It was a very violent game.  There was more speed on that field than I have seen in a long time on both sides.  It is hard to have a loser in that game.  We are awfully glad that this year we came out on top.  Our guys played like champions.  When you look at the score and look at the stats, everybody thinks that was a boring game.  There was a lot of excitement.  The coaches on our side did a heck of a job.  They prepared well, and they did things that we need to to win the ballgame.  They got the guys in the right positions.  Coach Muschamp and his coaching staff did a miraculous job against a throwing quarterback like that and guys that were very active in the backfield who can run the ball and receivers that can run.  One guy told me that was probably the difference in our game today was Kody Bliss.  I have never seen a punter change the field position like he did today.  He did just an unbelievable job.  There is going to be some talk about John (Vaughn) missing his field goal, but he did make his extra point, and that is all that counts.  It did give us a four-point lead where we didn’t have to go in one of those long overtimes again. 

“I am proud of our team and coaches and proud of our fans.  Our fans deserve this.  We have gone through some tough times.  We fought a bad reputation over the last few years when we got here.  We fought short-handed.  Our recruiting has gotten better, but we have done it the right way.  We are going to continue to do it the right way.  When you do it that way, it means a heck of a lot more.  I think our fans know what I am talking about.  It was a fun game.  It is a big one.  We will go back to work tomorrow and try to get better and get ready for our next game.”

On how hard was it watching that last LSU drive…
“On the last drive, we had a freshman safety that really didn’t understand the significance of moving up.  Aairon Savage played too deep, and he gave a couple of fade routes and put them in a situation where they could get the ball in the end zone.  I was surprised they didn’t throw it in the end zone a couple of times.  We learned.  We have a lot of young guys out there.  What goes through your mind is not making the plays at the end and just giving it up.  Our guys fought so hard that it would have really have been a shame to have lost that ballgame right there at the end, but I saw no quit in our players.  We were tired, but we had a lot left.  When you play that hard, you deserve to win.”

On LSU’s run defense…
“That is about as tough as it gets.  They weren’t going to let Kenny (Irons) run the ball, ad we weren’t going to let them run the ball.  I don’t know what Kenny got, probably (70) yards.  He earned every bit of it.  That is about like 150 against anybody else.  Their defensive line was very active.  They penetrated, and they keyed on Kenny.  Brandon (Cox) had some clutch throws and made some good passes.  Our offensive line held their own.  It was pretty much a stalemate most of the night.  It all came down to third down conversions.  We told our players during the week that thrid down was going to win this game.  You have to play good on third down.”

On going for it on fourth down in the fourth quarter…
“Going for it on fourth down on our own 40, the ole Gambler is still out there padlding around in the boat.  I wasn’t about to put them on the field.  We turn around and go three plays and give it to them.  We tried our gimmick play.  They played it pretty good.  We hadn’t run it in a few years.  It didn’t work and they did well.  We ended up punting but at least we were able to run a minute or so off the clock.”

On the pass interference penalty on Zach Gilbert that the officials overturned on the field…
“I got sick to my stomach.  I guess they called pass interference (Zach Gilbert), but (Eric Brock) tipped it.  That was a judgement call and thank goodness it went our way.  They still had to get the ball in the end zone. 

On redshirt freshman defensive back Jerraud Powers…
“Jerraud Powers is the young man that we put out on our third team.  Actually, he is an inside guy and we put him at corner, and we had to play a lot of base things.  He is a redshirt freshman and had a hurt shoulder in two-a-days.  He had to come through today, and he did.  He played real well.  It is pretty tough to play these guys without your starting corners.  When you lose two of your better ones, it makes it even more difficult for your linebackers and your front four to get to the quarterback.

On shutting LSU’s running game down…
“I think they tried to run it some, but I think they were more inclined to try to get the ball to their wide receivers.  We tackled well.  They hit us on a couple of cut backs.  We caught them one time what we call a deer play we ran the reverse to Courtney (Taylor) for a big first down.  It is all about changing directions on both defenses.  Anytime you had any success in running the ball, that’s what it was.  That’s what both teams did when the running game was there.:

What did John Vaughn say about the missed field goal…
“I didn’t ask him.  There is nothing to say.  It hit the crossbar.  I am proud for John that it finished that way and it wasn’t a point where it cost us.  I think our guys picked it up.  They saw where they needed to pick it up and play better and harder.  You can’t worry about those little things, especially that early in the game.”

On possibly being ranked No. 2 in the nation in the upcoming AP poll…
“We have a long ways to go.  If you want to count any of them bigger other than the Iron Bowl, this was the bigger because this was the group that consistently knocked us out or we knocked them out of the championship game.  We are two games ahead of them.  We will have to lose two games, and that could very easily happen if  we don’t go out and continue to improve with the schedule that we have left.  We have a lot of hard work to do.”

On gaining more yards after the first five possessions…
“Al (Borges) went to more play action.  We were trying to run the football, and they were not going to let us.  That’s about the same thing they did.  They didn’t make a whole lot either for the first three or four series.  You have to make adjustments as you go. Al and his staff did a good job.  Brandon did a good job checking off and making the plays.  That was a defensive game and kicking game.” 

Kenny Irons, RB
On how it feels to win this game…
“It feels pretty good to get this win in Jordan-Hare. There is no better feeling than this, than beating LSU. We worked hard all week, and we came out today and it paid off. The coaches are loving this, too.”

On the offense getting off to a slow start…
“We did get off to a slow start. They have a good defense and they were playing the run just like Mississippi State. They were stuffing the box and bringing the safeties up. Our wide receivers did a good job of keeping us balanced, and we eventually got the running game going.”

On the team’s mindset moving forward…
“We still have some big SEC games in front of us. It was a good win, but we have a tough schedule from here. We have to keep fighting hard.”

Courtney Taylor, WR
On the offense…
“Their defense played a great game. You can’t take anything away from them. We pushed them hard. It was a catfight. We like to call it a catfight, but that’s what we expected. We got our points and the defense made them stand up.”

On how the team approaches the remaining schedule…
“We’re going to enjoy it tonight, eat a lot of food and celebrate with our families. Tomorrow, we go back to work.”

Brandon Cox, QB
On why the offense struggled…
“It was their defense. They have a heck of a team and they played a heck of a game. We were able to grind out one touchdown and our defense came up big.”

On the running game…
“They were geared to stop the run and they did a good job of it. On our touchdown drive we ran it pretty well and passed it successfully, too. All we needed was seven.”

Merrill Johnson, LB
On ability to stop the run…
“We stood strong, We came in here and wanted to stop the run and I feel like we did.”

On pressuring the quarterback…
“Our defense is so fast. It was great to see us affect the quarterback so much. I don’t know how many times we got him on the ground, but I think we put enough pressure on him.”

On LSU’s running game…
“The tried to run the ball a lot, but our defense stood strong.”

Josh Thompson, DT
On the overall defensive execution…
“We executed pretty well. There were a few mishaps, but I think that our effort helped us overcome them.”

On LSU’s offense…
“They are very good at passing, but we shut the run down. Their offensive line is really, really good, as are their receivers.”

On his personal play..
“I played pretty good when I was in there. When I was in there they couldn’t run on us. I don’t think I did great, but I played pretty well.”

Karibi DeDe, LB
On LSU’s receivers…
“They have a great bunch of receivers. They are tough and they take hit after hit. I’ve been playing football for a long time and I have never seen receivers keep taking hits like that. I told our safety’s to keep hitting, but they kept taking it and holding onto the football.”

On Auburn’s pass defense…
“I felt we won some critical situations. We have to win third downs and we have to get off the field. When there was two minutes left, we needed a big stop and we got it, and we did it again with just a few seconds left in the game. We did a great job of covering.”

On Auburn’s defensive intensity…
“It was high from start to finish. Our goal is to shut people out. When they score three points, we knew we only needed four. When we got seven, we knew we had them.”

Kody Bliss, P
On his punting…
“We started with the rugby punts to keep them from blitzing, and it backed them off. After that I was just feeling it.”

Eric Brock, SS
On his tip down at the goal line…
“I saw it coming, I was in the right place at the right time and I got a good break on the ball.”

On his tip down at the goal line…
“I saw it coming, I was in the right place at the right time and I got a good break on the ball.”

LSU at Auburn
Sept. 16, 2006 ? Jordan-Hare Stadium (Auburn, Ala.)
Game Notes

Team Notes

  • LSU’s game captains were 2 JaMarcus Rusell, 33 Jason Spadoni, 41 Chris Jackson and 94 Chase Pittman.
  • LSU won the toss and deferred to the second half. Auburn received the opening kickoff.
  • Tigers extending their consecutive starts streak today were: FS LaRon Landry (38), CB Chevis Jackson (16), RT Brian Johnson (12), DE Chase Pittman (9).
  • First-time starters for LSU today were: DT Ricky Jean-Francois.
  • Craig Steltz‘ interception in the first quarter was the sixth of the season for LSU. The Tigers did not record their sixth interception until the seventh game last season (North Texas). 
  • LSU’s streak of 34 straight trips into the red zone not being stopped by an opponent or missing a kick was snapped on the last play of the fourth quarter.  The streak dated back to the Auburn game in 2005 (26 touchdowns and eight field goals).
  • LSU extended its streak of holding it opponents to no offensive touchdowns to 16 consecutive quarters before Auburn scored a touchdown late in the third quarter (the 17th quarter). Before today, the last time an opponent scored a touchdown against the Tigers was Georgia in the second quarter of the 2005 SEC Championship game.
  • Tonight’s game was the lowest scoring game that an LSU team has been involved in since losing to Alabama, 3-0, in 1979.
  • The road loss was LSU’s first under coach Les Miles and the first since Oct. 2, 2004, at No. 3 Georgia.

Individual Notes

  • WR Craig Davis pulled in a four-yard reception with 11:53 left in the first quarter to extend his consecutive games with a reception streak to 26 (every game in which he has played).
  • With a tackle in the first quarter, FS LaRon Landry extended his tackles in consecutive games streak. The senior has now made a tackle in 42 straight games.
  • QB JaMarcus Russell moved into seventh place on LSU career passing yards list in the first quarter with his second completion of the game. He moved past Josh Booty’s 3,951 yards and finished the game with 4,214 career yards.
  • With a tackle in the first half, SS Jessie Daniels extended his tackles in consecutive games streak. The senior has now made a tackle in 32 straight games.
  • S Craig Steltz pulled down his second interception of the season and third of his career with 2:35 left in the first quarter.
  • PK Colt David kicked a career-long 42-yard FG on the last play of the first half. David. Is now 6-7 in field goal

Auburn Post-Game Notes
Auburn vs. LSU
Jordan-Hare Stadium
September 16, 2006

  • The pre-game flight today was made by Spirit from section 56.
  • Auburn team captains were K John Vaughn, DB Jonathan Wilhite and H Matthew Motley.
  • LSU won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. Auburn elected to receive and will defend the south end zone.
  • Kickoff was at 2:35 p.m. CT.
  • Attendance was announced as a sellout at 87,451.


  • Auburn has now won seven of its last eight games against teams ranked in the Associated Press top 10 dating back to the 2004 season.
  • Auburn now trails the series with LSU 21-19-1 but leads 9-5 in games played at Auburn, and has won the last four meetings in Auburn.
  • Auburn has now won 18 of its last 19 SEC games, and 19 of its last 20 games against SEC opponents counting the 2004 SEC Championship game.
  • Auburn has now won seven straight games at Jordan-Hare Stadium and 16 of its last 17 at home.
  • Auburn now owns a 25-3 record since the start of the 2004 season, which is third best in the NCAA.
  • Auburn is now 4-1 all-time in games played on Sept. 16.
  • Auburn is now 4-3 all-time against teams ranked No. 6 in the AP poll. Auburn’s last victory over a team ranked No. 6 was a 23-18 win over Kentucky in 1965.
  • Auburn has now held 21 of its last 28 opponents to fewer than 20 points since the start of the 2004 season.
  • Auburn has not allowed a touchdown over its last nine quarters dating back to the third quarter of the opening game against Washington State.
  • Auburn trailed 3-0 at the half. It marked the first time this season that Auburn trailed at the half.
  • Auburn led 7-3 at the end of the third quarter. The Tigers are now 3-0 when leading at the end of three quarters.
  • Auburn had a 16-play drive in the second quarter that lasted 8:31, which was the longest drive of the year for the Tigers in terms of time of possession and plays. The 61-yard drive ended with a missed 26-yard field goal by John Vaughn.
  • The last time Auburn had a 16-play drive was last season vs. Ole Miss, when the Tigers had a 16-play, 82-yard drive that also did not result in points (turned over on downs).  The last time Auburn had a drive that lasted 8:31 was a 17-play drive that lasted 8:31 against Western Kentucky in 2003 and resulted in a field goal.
  • Since records began being kept in 1970, Auburn’s 8:31 drive was tied for the second-longest in Auburn history in time of possession, trailing only a 19-play, 90-yard drive against Ole Miss in 1985 that took 10:06 off the clock.
  • Auburn’s first touchdown drive was a 12-play drive that consumed 6:43, which was the Tigers’ second-longest drive of the season.
  • This first time Auburn has come back from a halftime deficit since last season’s Arkansas game.
  • The 10 total points made this game the 12th-lowest combined scoring game in stadium history.  It is also the lowest scoring home game since Auburn defeated Houston, 7-0, in 1973.
  • Auburn’s 182 yards of total offense is the fewest yards in an Auburn victory since beating LSU 30-26 in 1994. In that game, Auburn netted 165 total yards, while returning three fourth-quarter interceptions for touchdowns.


  • Will Herring started his 39th consecutive game, which is eight shy of the school record held by OL Jeno James (1996-99).
  • Courtney Taylor’s 22 leaves him four yards short of seventh-place on Auburn’s career receiving yardage list with 1,570 yards, trailing Byron Franklin (1977-80) for seventh.
  • Kenny Irons 70 yards rushing helped him pass Rudi Johnson on Auburn’s career rushing yards list, moving him to 19th. He needs five more yards to pass Curtis Kuykendall for 18th on Auburn’s career rushing yardage list. Irons now has 1,615 career rushing yards. 
  • Kody Bliss had a season-long 61-yard punt in the first quarter, then topped that with a 62-yard punt in the second quarter. Bliss now has seven punts of at least 60 yards in his career, and has had at least one punt of over 60 yards in all four of his seasons at Auburn. His career long is 63 yards in last year’s game at LSU.
  • Brandon Cox threw his first interception of the season late in the first quarter. Cox had thrown 49 passes this season without a pick, and it was just his third interception in his last nine games (234 pass attempts).
  • Robert Dunn (14 yards) and Tommy Trott (two yards) both had their first receptions of the season.
  • Brandon Cox’s 1-yard touchdown plunge in the third quarter was his second career rushing touchdown. He had a 14-yard touchdown run in 2004 against Louisiana-Monroe.
  • Eric Brock made the final tackle of the game as well as tipped the ball on a crucial LSU fourth-down play late in the fourth quarter. He finished the game with five tackles and one pass breakup.