Newton, Auburn win SEC shootout
Cam Newton kept looking up at the scoreboard, amazed as anyone
at the numbers he saw, climbing higher and higher with each
He wondered how many points it would take to win.
Fifty? Sixty? Seventy?
”I’m sitting there on the sideline saying, ‘Wow, we have this
many points, and they have that many points,”’ Auburn’s do-it-all
quarterback said. ”At one point, we didn’t want to score too fast
because it was like a heavyweight boxing match.”
When this offensive slugfest was done, the No. 7 Tigers had a
mind-boggling 65-43 victory over 12th-ranked Arkansas on Saturday,
the teams combining on a record for points in a Southeastern
Conference game that didn’t go to overtime.
Newton left little doubt he deserves to be in the mix for the
Heisman Trophy after running for 188 yards, passing for 140 and
having a hand in four touchdowns.
But let’s not forget a defense that finally came up with some
big stops in the fourth quarter. And certainly remember two
crucial, and sure to be debated, calls from the replay booth, both
of which upheld Auburn touchdowns and just as easily could’ve gone
”We refuse to lose,” Newton said.
He led Auburn (7-0, 4-0 SEC) with three touchdown runs,
including a three-yarder with 8 1/2 minutes remaining that
essentially clinched it. Newton also threw a 15-yard touchdown pass
to Emory Blake with 11:44 left, giving Auburn the lead for good at
Arkansas (4-2, 1-2) might have seen its SEC title hopes dashed
and also lost its own Heisman hopeful, quarterback Ryan Mallett,
who went out in the first half after taking a blow to the head. But
Tyler Wilson took over at quarterback and the Razorbacks didn’t
miss a beat – not until the fourth quarter, anyway.
Auburn scored the final 28 points in a dizzying display, putting
up four touchdowns in a little over five minutes to finally finish
this one, setting off a raucous celebration as the sun set on the
Newton ran around, over and through the Razorbacks, not to
mention a highly efficient 10-of-14 passing performance.
”No. 2 is one spectacular football player,” Auburn coach Gene
Chizik said. ”I’m not one to go out on a limb, but everyone in the
world can see it.”
On one touchdown, the 6-foot-6, 250-pounder barreled right over
linebacker Jerico Nelson like he was nothing more than a kicker
trying to make the stop. On another, Newton took a shotgun snap
from the 5-yard-line to get a running start so he could soar over
everyone for the score.
Wilson completed 15 of his first 17 passes for 270 yards and
four touchdowns, the last of them a 23-yarder to Greg Childs that
gave the Razorbacks a 43-37 lead with 14:09 remaining.
”There’s a point where you think, ‘This night is going to be
magical,”’ Wilson said.
But 43 wasn’t nearly enough points, not in a game that broke the
previous SEC scoring record: South Carolina’s 65-39 victory over
Mississippi State in 1995.
It was all Auburn from there. Well, Auburn and the guys
upstairs, who already had made a crucial ruling in the first half
that preserved a touchdown for the Tigers.
After Newton’s scoring pass to Blake, Arkansas picked up one
first down and appeared to have another when Broderick Green
barreled around right end for 4 yards. As he was brought down by
Craig Stevens and Mike Blanc, the ball suddenly popped loose.
Zac Etheridge picked it up for Auburn and took off the other
way, going 47 yards to the end zone.
Then, it was time for the replay officials to do their thing.
The video appeared to show Green putting a knee on the ground a
split-second before the ball popped loose and he was rolling over a
defender. Apparently, though, that wasn’t definitive enough to
overturn the call on the field.
”The fumble recovery started it all,” linebacker Josh Bynes
said. ”That is what changed the game.”
On the very next snap, Wilson finally cracked. An ill-advised
pass downfield was picked off by Bynes. He returned it 33 yards to
the Arkansas 7, and there was no way to stop Newton from there. He
rushed up the middle for 4 yards, then finished it off with more
carry up the middle.
He hopped along the end line, whipping up the Auburn student
body before he skipped away toward the bench.
Auburn finally had enough points to hold off the Razorbacks,
adding one more touchdown after Wilson’s second pick to win a game
that featured a staggering 1,036 yards, a blocked punt and a
99-yard kickoff return by Auburn’s Onterio McCalebb.
This was supposed to be one of the year’s top quarterback
matchups, but Mallett didn’t even make it to halftime. He was
knocked out after throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass for the game’s
first score – long forgotten by the end.
Wilson was quite the replacement for a guy averaging nearly 350
yards per game passing. The sophomore went to Childs for a pair of
TDs, also connecting on a 34-yarder, and hooked up with Joe Adams
on a 24-yard score and Ronnie Wingo on a 37-yarder.
”I was really happy with the way our guys rallied around Tyler
Wilson,” Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said.
The replay calls all went Auburn’s way, though, showing that
disputes can occur even with the benefit of video. The Tigers’
first big break came when Mario Fannin took a handoff at the 4 and
tumbled into the end zone. Only one problem: The ball was sitting
back at the 1. The Razorbacks scooped it up and thought they had
The officials huddled. While there had been no apparent
touchdown signal, they finally ruled that Fannin had crossed the
line before he lost the ball. That was crucial, because it wasn’t
possible from the various replay angles to tell if Tramine Thomas
knocked the ball loose before Fannin scored.
So, the Tigers got to celebrate. It wouldn’t be the last