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Newton shakes off tough week to lead Auburn past Georgia

Nov 14, 2010 - 3:51 AM Auburn, AL (Sports Network) - Cam Newton shook off questions about his eligibility and accounted for four touchdowns to keep No. 2 Auburn firmly in the national title race with a 49-31 victory over Georgia at Jordan-Hare Stadium, a win that secured the Tigers a place in the SEC Championship Game.

Reports surfaced recently in regards to Newton's suspect recruitment out of junior college, but Auburn (11-0, 7-0 SEC) nonetheless stuck by its Heisman Trophy candidate amid the controversy.

The imposing 6-foot-6, 250-pound quarterback responded with 151 yards and two touchdowns on the ground while shaking off an early interception and compiling 148 yards and two scores on 12-of-15 throws.

The Tigers, who also got three rushing scores from Onterio McCalebb, wrapped up the SEC West and will face South Carolina in the conference title game on December 4 after the Gamecocks beat Florida Saturday to win the East Division.

Aaron Murray threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns -- two to A.J. Green -- on 15-of-28 passes for the Bulldogs (5-6, 3-5), who had won four of five coming into the game. Green finished with 164 yards on nine catches.

"I made some big plays, but it wasn't enough," Green said. "They're a great team with a great defense, and they were the better team today."

Auburn, which is also No. 2 in the BCS standings, came out at halftime with the game tied, 21-21, and surprised Georgia with an onside kick.

Wes Byrum topped the ball with a deft touch and recovered it himself after it bounced the necessary 10 yards. After a pair of third-downs conversions, McCalebb barreled in from two yards out 4:12 into the third quarter.

On the ensuing march, a Murray-to-Kris Durham hookup of 28 yards moved the chains on 3rd-and-15, and Orson Charles' 36-yard reception on the next play set up Washaun Ealey's seven-yard scoring jaunt.

McCalebb galloped 48 yards on the next play from scrimmage and later took a pitch to the right four yards for the eventual game-winning score with just over five minutes remaining in the third.

On the final play of the quarter, Georgia's Blair Walsh booted a 28-yard field goal to cap a drive that was kept alive by a roughing the passer penalty on Nick Fairley following an incomplete pass on third down.

Auburn chewed up the next seven minutes on a run-heavy trek that lasted 13 plays and went 79 yards, highlighted by Newton's 15-yard scramble on 3rd- and-11 to get down to the Georgia 13-yard line. From there, a play-action fake allowed Philip Lutzenkirchen to get open in the middle of the end zone, where the tight end secured Newton' lofted pass with 8:05 remaining.

After Murray threw incomplete on fourth down at his own 27, Newton barely crossed the goal line on a one-yard keeper with 2:45 to play, finishing off yet another prolific performance for the former Florida Gator.

Two Auburn players were ejected in a final series that saw several cheap shots from both sides, an unfortunate ending for Auburn's second-ever 8-0 home season.

"I couldn't be happier for our fans. Just the Auburn family and I am just excited for everybody," Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said. "I am very proud of (Newton) and his performance, and I am very proud of our whole football team starting with our seniors, who have done a great job getting us to this point this year."

Newton started the game on a high note with a 31-yard touchdown run 2:24 in.

Georgia answered with a nine-play, 73-yard drive that Green capped with a 31- yard score from Murray, who was quickly back on the field after Newton was picked off the next series.

Shaun Chapas' nine-yard TD grab made it 14-7, and Green hauled in a 40-yard touchdown in the final minute of the opening quarter for a 21-7 Georgia lead.

McCalebb cut the deficit in half with a four-yard score around the left side early in the second frame, and Newton fit a perfectly-thrown ball into a tight window for Lutzenkirchen for an 18-yard TD just before halftime.

Game Notes

Newton accounted for 35 TDs this season coming into the game, more than 71 teams in the FBS ranks have amassed overall...McCalebb logged 71 yards on 12 carries, while Michael Dyer rushed for 60 yards on 13 carries to pass Bo Jackson's Auburn freshman rushing record of 829 yards...Brandon Boykin set a Georgia record for kickoff return yardage in a career, surpassing Gene Washington's 1,637 yards...Caleb King rushed for 53 yards on nine carries to top a Georgia attack that was outgained on the ground, 315-81...Auburn leads the seventh-most played series in the country, 54-52-8...Both teams have a week off before playing rivalry games, as Auburn travels to play Alabama and Georgia plays Georgia Tech.