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COLLEGE FOOTBALL : Auburn Closes In on Title : Burger's Passes Lead Tigers to 27-11 Victory Over No. 8 Georgia

November 15, 1987|Associated Press

ATHENS, Ga. — Jeff Burger knew exactly what would work against eighth-ranked Georgia Saturday.

"We knew we could throw the ball underneath on them," Burger said after using mostly a short passing game to throw for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns as 12th-ranked Auburn overpowered the Bulldogs, 27-11.

The Tigers won it with a 17-point third quarter and a defense that forced four turnovers and shut down Georgia's offense while the game was still in doubt.

"The ball takes some funny bounces in this game," Auburn Coach Pat Dye said. "Last week, we didn't get any of the breaks and tonight it seemed the ball bounced our way a number of times."

Auburn had six turnovers a week ago when it lost, 34-6, to No. 4 Florida State.

Burger, who completed 22 of 32 passes, had scoring tosses of 21 yards to Lawyer Tillman and 3 yards to Duke Donaldson.

The Tigers, 8-1-1 this season and 4-0-1 in the SEC, need a victory over Alabama Nov. 27 to clinch the title outright.

"I really thought we wanted to win this game," Georgia Coach Vince Dooley said. "We were very excited, we just didn't play very well. We weren't very consistent."

Georgia (7-3 and 4-2) could have clinched a championship tie with a victory, but instead was eliminated.

The swarming Auburn defense kept Georgia's attack at bay for most of the afternoon and helped turn the tide with a pair of third-quarter turnovers that set up a field goal and touchdown.

Carlo Cheattom pounced on a James Jackson fumble at the Georgia 37 to set up a 40-yard field goal by Win Lyle, and Nate Hill's interception set up a 28-yard touchdown run on a reverse by Alexander Wright.

Lyle also kicked a 34-yard field goal with three seconds left in the first half, less than three minutes after Georgia had sliced the Tiger lead to 7-3 on a 38-yard field goal by Steve Crumley.

Lars Tate scored on a two-yard run with 4:14 left and then ran for the two-point conversion.

The victory squared the South's oldest series, one that began in 1892, at 42-42-7.

The Tigers took control of the game at the start of the third quarter when they drove 69 yards in seven plays to build their lead to 17-3 on Burger's 3-yard pass to Donaldson.

Three plays later, Greg Staples forced the Jackson fumble that Cheattom recovered to set up the Lyle field goal, building the lead to 20-3 with 6:23 left in the third quarter.

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