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Central Florida Doesn't Manage to Sneak Up on No. 8 Auburn

September 28, 1997|From Associated Press

Central Florida stuck seven and eight players on the line of scrimmage Saturday, daring Dameyune Craig and the Auburn receivers to win with the pass.

It was a flawed plan, as Craig threw for 360 yards and two touchdowns and wideout Tyrone Goodson finished with 149 receiving yards in leading No. 8 Auburn (4-0) to a 41-14 victory over the Golden Knights (1-4) at Auburn, Ala.

It was the third-best passing night of Craig's career and Auburn Coach Terry Bowden said he could tell early that his senior quarterback would have a chance for big numbers.

"I will take what they give me," Bowden said. "I'd love to establish the run, but it's about pass first and run second. That's what college football is about these days."

Abandoning the running game and operating almost exclusively out of the shotgun, Craig completed 27 of 40 passes, including six completions of 20 yards or more.

Craig also ran for 57 yards and a score to finish with 417 yards in total offense, five short of former quarterback Patrick Nix's school record.

It resulted in the 18th consecutive nonconference regular-season victory for Auburn, which was trying to guard against a letdown after last week's 31-28 victory at Louisiana State.

Central Florida showed none of the tenacity it had in coming close to upsets earlier this season against Mississippi, South Carolina and taking a halftime lead against Nebraska that sent the Cornhuskers to the lockerroom being booed by their fans.

The Golden Knights were hoping to turn it into a contest between Craig and their star quarterback, Daunte Culpepper.

But while Culpepper took a beating to collect his 210 yards on 19 for 30 passing, Craig spent most of the night unbothered in the pocket and throwing on target to his receivers.

"He understands what we're doing out there," Bowden said. "He understands what the coverages are and where the second and third receivers are. It's amazing sitting back watching him, and seeing him find the right receivers."

They were easy to spot against Central Florida, which consistently clogged the middle to take away the rushing option.

That part worked--Craig's 57 yards were enough to lead the team in running--but Auburn's group of receivers were too much for the Central Florida cornerbacks to handle in one-on-one coverage.

"We knew watching the film that this was a night that receivers could either make plays or not," Goodson said.

The senior receiver surpassed the 100-yard mark for the third consecutive game. His best catch of the night was a 34-yard reception in the second quarter on a timing pattern where he jousted with cornerback Darryl Latimore, but showed the strength to push him away and make the play.

No. 13 Louisiana State 56, Akron 0--Herb Tyler passed for four touchdowns and ran for another score as the Tigers (3-1) scored on each of their first half possessions at Baton Rouge, La.

Cecil Collins ran for 179 yards and a touchdown for LSU. All-American Kevin Faulk, who missed two games because of a hamstring injury, ran for 52 yards in six carries and returned four punts for 95 yards. Faulk had punt returns of 77 and 44 yards nullified by penalties.

Rondell Mealey gained 103 yards in 15 carries and scored the final LSU touchdown.

The Zips fell to 0-4.

No. 21 Alabama 27, Southern Miss. 13--Freddie Kitchens broke out of an offensive slump with two touchdown passes as the Crimson Tide continued its dominance over the Golden Eagles at Birmingham, Ala.

It was Alabama's (3-1) sixth consecutive win over the Golden Eagles (2-2). The last time Southern Mississippi beat the Crimson Tide was 1990, in Gene Stallings first game as Alabama's coach.

Alabama, rebounding from last week's loss to Arkansas, took a 24-13 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter when Curtis Alexander scored on a one-yard plunge. Kitchens set the score up one play earlier when he hit Shamari Buchanan with a 44-yard pass.

Southern Miss lost any chance to get back in the game when quarterback Lee Roberts threw interceptions on the Eagles' next two possessions. Steve Harris returned one of the interceptions 26 yards to set up a 22-yard field goal by Brian Cunningham that put Alabama ahead, 27-13.

Mississippi 15, Vanderbilt 3--Coach Woody Widenhofer talked the talk during the week, but Vanderbilt players couldn't back it up at Oxford, Miss.

Stewart Patridge threw for 253 yards and a touchdown as Ole Miss (3-1, 1-1) defeated Vanderbilt 15-3. Deuce McAllister ran four yards for his first career touchdown after the Commodores turned the ball over on consecutive plays in the fourth quarter.

After a recovered fumble was nullified by an offsides penalty, Malikia Griffin intercepted a Damian Allen pass on the next play and raced 40 yards to the Vanderbilt 22. McAllister scored four plays later.

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