Auburn 24 Vanderbilt 21

Auburn 24 Vanderbilt 21

Vanderbilt fell to Auburn 24-21 tonight despite 173 yards and two touchdowns from senior running back Lew Thomas along with a record setting performance by senior quarterback Greg Zolman. The loss dropped Vandy to 0-2 in the SEC East and 1-3 overall. A controversial fake field goal on fourth down with less than a minute remaining added more heat to an already embattled Vanderbilt Head Coach Woody Widenhofer.

Thomas, a senior from Georgia, had 27 carries and continues to show why he is a legitimate SEC running back.  Most of Thomas' yardage came in the second half when the two teams offenses finally got on track.

Zolman is now the Vanderbilt career all-time leading passer with 6,420 yards.  Zolman became the Vanderbilt career passing yardage leader after a 19-yard completion to Brandon Smith in the first half. He surpassed Whit Taylor who totaled 6,307 yards from 1979-82.  When asked about the passing record, Zolman replied, "It would have made it a lot sweeter if we had had the win."

Auburn got on the board on it's first drive of the game with a 56-yard run by Carnell Williams to put the Tigers up 7-0.  It would be the only score of the first half though as the two teams exchanged missed field goals for the only other significant offense of the first half. 

Vanderbilt scored on its opening drive of the second half when it marched down the field on a 13 play, 76 yard drive.  Lew Thomas scored on a 4-yard run with 8:43 left in the first to make it Vanderbilt 7 Auburn 7.

Auburn responded quickly to the Vandy score however.  Auburn re-took the lead less than a minute and a half after the Vandy score when Tiger quarterback Jason Campbell completed a 35-yard pass to Robert Johnson to make it Auburn 14 Vanderbilt 7.

On Vanderbilt's ensuing possession, Auburn forced the Commodores to punt. The Tiger returner, Horace Willis, fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Vanderbilt Lorenzo Parker at the Auburn 21.  Three plays later, Lew Thomas scored from two yards out to even things up again at 14 with 3:50 left in the third quarter.

Vanderbilt then forced Auburn to punt and the Tigers were able to down the ball at the Vanderbilt two.  On third and eleven Zolman was intercepted and the ball returned to the Vandy one.  The Tigers needed only one play to get it in the end zone.  With 54 seconds left in the third it was Auburn 21 Vanderbilt 14. 

Vanderbilt would not quit.  On its next possession the Commodores drove the ball 83 yards in nine plays.  With 11:00 minutes left in the game Vandy knotted the score at 21 with a 4-yard pass to Dan Stricker.  Lew Thomas rushed for 40 yards on the drive.

After holding the Tigers on fourth down at the Vandy nine-yard-line, Vandy had its own drive stall.  Auburn got the ball back and facing a third and 28 at the Auburn 47, the Tigers completed a pass to Casinious Moore down to the Vanderbilt 32-yard line.   Damon Duval then converted on a 49-yard field goal to make it Auburn 24 Vanderbilt 21.

Vanderbilt's final drive bogged down in a swamp of sorrow at the Tiger 26-yard line.  On fourth and 1 Vanderbilt lined up for an apparent field goal attempt by transfer Jimmy Stover.  After two Auburn time outs in an attempt to "ice" the Vandy kicker, the Dores ran a fake with holder Justin Purkey.  Purkey was tackled for a two yard loss and the Commodore hopes of an upset were once again dashed.  When asked about the fake field goal head coach Widenhofer replied: "We worked on the fake field goal all week.  We had it set up such that if he got hit he could have pitched it to the kicker.  He didn't get the pitch off, but it was there. I made the decision for the fake even before they called the time outs. It would have been a 44-yard field goal and we hadn't hit one over 38 all year."

Woody, who is in his fifth season as head coach at Vanderbilt, fell to 14-34 overall as coach of the Commodores.

Vanderbilt has on off next week and will host Georgia on October 13th at Vanderbilt Stadium. Auburn will host Mississippi State next Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala.

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