Auburn survives road scare, wins SEC opener

Using a dominant defensive effort and the arm and legs of quarterback Cameron Newton, Auburn held off Mississippi State 17-14 Thursday night in Starkville in the SEC opener for both teams.

The Tigers scored all of their points in the first half, taking a 17-7 lead into the break before their defense continued to make things difficult for Dan Mullen’s offense. The Bulldogs cut the lead to 17-14 and had a chance to tie or pull out a win but were stalled on the final drive in the closing minute.

Auburn defensive lineman Nick Fairley was a one-man show, setting the Tigers up for an early touchdown with an interception and a field goal with his fumble recovery. He also added two sacks.

Cameron NewtonAuburn QB Cameron Newton threw two touchdowns and logged 206 total yards Thursday night.

Newton once again showed Tigers fans just how dangerous he will be in Gus Malzahn’s offense. The junior-college transfer and onetime Florida Gator, who almost transferred to Mississippi State, threw two touchdowns and logged 206 total yards to lead the offense.

Coming off a stellar debut in which he gained 357 total yards against Arkansas State, Newton mixed in a productive passing attack with his ability to run, giving the Bulldogs’ defense fits. He completed 11 of 19 passes for 136 yards and also ran for 70 yards on 18 carries.

Newton outgained Mississippi State 146-125 all by himself in the first half.

The Bulldogs’ final drive ended at the Auburn 40 when quarterback Chris Relf’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete with 22 seconds remaining. Before that incompletion, receiver Leon Berry dropped a pass that would have put the Bulldogs in field goal range. Relf finished the game 12-of-25 passing for 110 yards.

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