Auburn hammers Miss. State

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 20, 2002

STARKVILLE The common theme in the Mississippi State postgame conferences was turnovers.

The Bulldogs gave them away and Auburn was happy to accept.

The Tigers (3-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) committed six turnovers and Carnell “Cadillac” Williams rushed for 106 yards and a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 42-14 win in front of the largest crowd in Scott Field history.

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“We made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized. That’s basically the bottom line,” MSU defensive back Milas Randle said. “We were there, we just couldn’t make the plays.”

The loss in front of 52,583, many ignoring the articificial noise maker rule, dropped Mississippi State to 1-2 and 0-1 in the SEC as next week’s showdown with LSU looms.

“We have to worry about the next game and get it behind you,” said MSU quarterback Kevin Fant, who completed 19 of 31 passes for 215 yards, but fumbled twice and was intercepted once. “We’re going up against a tough opponent and they’ll be ready for us. We have to get ready to play next week.”

Dontae Walker scored a pair of touchdowns for the Bulldogs, who took a 7-0 first-quarter lead after a Walker 1-yard touchdown.

Auburn answered early in the second quarter with a 16-yard scoring pass from Daniel Cobb to Anthony Mix. The touchdown set off a seven-minute spurt that saw the Tigers score two more times before the half.

“I said it would take five turnovers to win this game and we got six,” Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. “We made some mistakes, but we really played well. We have a long way to go, but this is important.”

After a Fant interception, Mississippi State forced Auburn into a fumble, but the ball bounced off MSU’s Korey Banks and Auburn recovered. Cobb connected with Marcel Wills for a 17-yard score three plays later.

“We were in a safe-punt situation and should have fielded the ball,” MSU coach Jackie Sherrill said. “That was a critical mistake.”

Auburn added a 45-yard touchdown pass from Cobb to Ben Obomanu for a 21-7 lead right before halftime. Cobb ended the game 10-of-21 for 183 yards and three scores. Cobb started the game 1-for-9, but completed nine of his final 11 passes.

“They gave us a lot of opportunities to play man-to-man coverage,” Cobb said. “We got to show the talent we have, and hopefully, people will start respecting us. If they don’t, we’ll have to go out there and do it again.”

Walker’s second touchdown midway through the third quarter cut the lead to seven, but then the Cadillac drove Auburn home.

Williams, a standout sophomore from Attalla, Ala., rushed for 46 yards in the fourth quarter and scored on runs of 9 and 5 yards and Brandon Johnson scored on a 1-yard run as the Tigers turned a punt and two fumbles into 21 points.

“I knew we were going to win the ballgame,” Williams said. “I would have to say toward the end of the third quarter was when it really all came together, and we felt the game was over.”

Cobb briefly left the game in the third quarter with a bruised shoulder and Taylorsville native Jason Campbell saw limited action. He did not throw a pass.

“A young team grew up tonight,” said Tuberville, who previously coached at Ole Miss. “We were a little worried coming into the game. … It’s a good win for this football team coming on the road.”