Simply 6

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

AUBURN – Saturday’s Iron Bowl was close, and then again it really wasn’t.

Auburn’s biggest lead of the contest was 10 points, and it never led by more than a touchdown for the majority of the night.

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But momentum never shifted Alabama’s way, and the Tigers (8-4, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) took a 17-10 win that was dominating by all accounts.

The Tigers can now use a second hand to tally the Iron Bowl victory streak, which has run to six.

“It was a typical Iron Bowl,” Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. “There was a lot of defense. There was a lot of hitting. You had guys on both sides playing hard. We knew we would get a good shot from them after not playing well last week.”

For the Crimson Tide (6-6, 4-4) it was yet another late-season letdown for a team and a fan base that had carried weighty hopes when Nick Saban took over as coach.

Brandon Cox scored on a quarterback keeper to put Auburn ahead 17-7 with 3:58 left in the ball game.

Alabama place-kicker Leigh Tiffin responded with a 49-yard field goal that made it a 10-point game with 1:47 to play.

The Tigers ran the ball four times and forced Alabama to use its last two timeouts before Brandon Cox took a knee with 29 seconds on the clock.

Brad Lester and Ben Tate made up for an inefficient passing game. Lester ran for 98 yards, and Tate ran for 79 and the game’s first touchdown with 8:08 left in the first. Cox was 12-for-22 with 117 yards and an interception.

Alabama’s John Parker Wilson was 12-of-26 with 113 yards and a pick, but he didn’t get much help from his running backs. Glen Coffee led the team rushing with 60 yards, and Wilson’s 2-yard keeper early in the second quarter was the team’s only touchdown.

Although the difference in penalties wasn’t glaring, Alabama’s breakdowns in that area hurt at the worst times.

Two defensive calls – one of them roughing the passer – were flagged on Auburn’s final touchdown drive.

A holding penalty on Alabama’s previous possession forced the Tide into a second-and-16, killing a drive that started at the 12 and reached the 47.

Rolando McClain picked Cox off with 1:40 left in the first half, but Auburn’s defense answered the call.

Jerraud Powers intercepted Wilson’s pass in the end zone with 33 seconds left.

Saban said missing that opportunity in the red zone might have changed the game for good.

“That was critical,” he said. “We had a third-and-1, and we took a shot. D.J. (Hall) had a chance to actually catch the ball, and the ball got tipped and Auburn made the interception. We didn’t get any points out of two situations, and that was critical in the game.”