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Irons, Auburn finally run down pesky Ole Miss

Oct 28, 2006 - 8:00 PM OXFORD, Mississippi (Ticker) -- Auburn had an unexpectedly tough time with Mississippi. But when it counted, Kenny Irons was hard to stop.

Irons sparked a late scoring drive and the seventh-ranked Tigers held on for a 23-17 Southeastern Conference victory over the Rebels to continue their domination of the series.

Auburn (8-1, 5-1 SEC West) has won seven straight and eight of nine all-time matchups in Oxford, with the sole loss coming in 1992.

In the teams' last meeting here two years ago, the Tigers posted a 35-14 win to clinch the division title before the calendar had even flipped to November. This time, Irons helped Auburn stay in the thick of the division race behind Arkansas.

"They were fired up to play, we were here to try and make ourselves better and thankfully at the end we had enough points to win," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "That's a sign of a good team - you find a way to win on the road."

Nursing a 20-17 lead with 5:24 to play, Auburn took over at its 38. After an incomplete pass by Brandon Cox, the Tigers turned to Irons who ripped off runs of 16 and 14 yards. Irons ran the ball eight times on the 11-play, 50-yard drive that John Vaughn capped with a 29-yard field goal with 35 seconds to play.

Irons finished with 106 yards on 23 carries.

Ole Miss (2-7, 1-5 West) only was able to run one play after the kick. The game ended after quarterback Brent Schaeffer was sacked for the third time.

"Our team battled very hard today against Auburn, which is a very good football team," Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron said. "We wanted to play physical football against a physical football team. I thought our guys competed very well."

The Rebels have lost three straight games and seven of their last eight but gave the Tigers all they could handle Saturday. Schaeffer threw a three-yard TD pass to Lawrence Lilly with 12:55 to go to tie the game, 17-17.

Auburn responded with a 10-play, 51-yard drive that culminated in a 20-yard field goal by Vaughn with 7:35 to play.

Cox completed 21-of-34 passes for a season-high 253 yards, a touchdown and an interception for the Tigers, who have conference games remaining against Georgia and Alabama and need to have the Razorbacks lose twice in SEC play to have a shot at reaching the league title game. Arkansas took control of the division race with a 27-10 victory at Auburn on October 7.

Behind Cox and Irons, Auburn had little trouble moving the ball but stopped itself on a number of occassions. Ole Miss took the opening kickoff and went 81 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 27-yard TD run by Mico McSwain.

Auburn answered with a 15-play, 69-yard drive capped by a 13-yard TD pass from Cox to Rodgeriqus Smith. Auburn had two other possessions in the half but both ended on turnovers in Rebel territory. An 11-play, 70-yard march ended when Cox threw an interception, and Brad Lester, who ran for 49 yards and a TD, lost a fumble just before the half.

Mississippi gained only 78 yards in the first half after its opening drive and finished with 256 yards, while Auburn had 428.

"We played hard but made some costly mistakes," Cox said. "We put up good numbers and got the win, so I can't complain."

Schaeffer was 8-of-16 for 161 yards and a TD. He also threw a pair of interceptions in the third quarter that Auburn turned into 10 points. Lester scored on a six-yard run with 5:50 left in the quarter and Vaughn converted from 31 yards to make it 17-10.

"I think the two turnovers in the third quarter were critical," Orgeron said. "To have a chance to win, you cannot make those types of mistakes."

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