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Auburn's Johnson Hit From All Angles by Mississippi State

October 08, 2000|From Associated Press

All week Mississippi State had heard about Auburn's bruising running game and big, bad Rudi Johnson.

So on Saturday, No. 20 Mississippi State went out and held Johnson, the Southeastern Conference's leading rusher, to only 26 yards, and the Bulldogs defeated the No. 15 Tigers, 17-10, at Starkville, Miss.

Senior cornerback Fred Smoot said that the Mississippi State coaches had told the Bulldogs, 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the Southeastern Conference, that Auburn (5-1, 3-1) was a more physical team than they were.

"We think we're the most physical team," Smoot said. "We had to go out and prove it."

Johnson entered the game averaging 143.2 yards. The transfer from two-time national champion Butler County Junior College in Virginia, had surpassed 100 yards rushing in each of his first five Division I-A games.

Mississippi State came in giving up only 26 yards a game rushing and was determined to keep Johnson from extending his streak.

"They ain't been hit like that," Smoot said. "And I know for a fact Rudi Johnson ain't been hit like that."

Coming off a game in which they held Florida to minus-78 yards rushing, the Bulldogs were even better Saturday. Mississippi State penetrated Auburn's offensive line consistently, rarely giving the 230-pound Johnson a chance to pick up a head of steam.

While Mississippi State's Dicenzo Miller ran for 136 yards in 20 carries, Johnson ran 18 times and took a beating from a defense that missed few tackles. Auburn finished with 18 net yards rushing in 19 carries.

No. 12 Florida 41, Louisiana State 9--The Gators, stymied the previous Saturday by Mississippi State, got big games from freshman quarterback Rex Grossman and freshman receiver Jabar Gaffner and routed the Tigers at Gainesville, Fla.

Grossman and Gaffney, both making their first starts, hooked up for three touchdowns passes. Grossman was 18 for 28 for 276 yards and Gaffney turned short passes into touchdown plays of 26 and 59 yards and also scored on a nine-yard pass play late in the first half.

Florida (5-1, 2-1 SEC) also got some help--finally--from a defense that had allowed at least 500 yards in each of the last two games.

Sophomore linebacker Mike Nattiel had two interceptions, and the defense held the Tigers (3-3, 1-2) to no more than five offensive plays on all but four possessions.

No. 19 Georgia 21, No. 21 Tennessee 10--Led by a big-play offense and a defense that refused to give in deep in its territory, the Bulldogs ended a decade of frustration against the Volunteers with a victory at Athens, Ga.

Georgia (4-1, 2-1) scored all three of its touchdowns on one-yard runs, two by Jasper Sanks and one by Musa Smith.

Tim Wansley intercepted two Tennessee passes. After the second, with 1:13 remaining, enthusiastic fans rushed onto the field in an attempt to rip down one of the goal posts.

Officials cleared the field long enough to complete the game as Georgia ran out the clock, bringing fans to both end zones where both goal posts were torn down. They celebrated the end of Georgia's nine-game losing streak against the Vols (2-3, 0-3) dating to a 28-17 triumph in Athens in 1988, also the last season Tennessee started 0-3 in conference.

Mississippi 35, Arkansas State 10--Deuce McAllister scored three touchdowns and became the top career rusher and scorer in Mississippi history as the Rebels (4-1) beat the Indians (0-6) at Oxford, Miss.

McAllister finished with 129 all-purpose yards, including 85 on the ground. His rushing total of 2,729 yards broke a 50-year record set by Kayo Dottley, who rushed for 2,064. McAllister's third-quarter touchdown grab gave him 210 points, breaking the career scoring mark held by former kicker Brian Lee at 207.

Romaro Miller was 21 for 29 for 226 yards and three touchdowns in another record-breaking performance. Miller's three touchdown passes gave him a career total of 34, breaking the school record held by three quarterbacks, including Archie Manning.

South Carolina 20, Kentucky 17--Derek Watson ran for 149 yards, including a 58-yard run for the game-winning score, as the Gamecocks (5-1, 3-1) defeated the Wildcats (2-4, 0-3) at Lexington, Ky.

With South Carolina trailing 17-13, Sheldon Brown intercepted Jared Lorenzen's pass at the Gamecocks' six and returned it to the 42.

On the next play, Watson took a pitch right, cut back to the middle of the field and outran three defenders to the end zone to give South Carolina a 20-17 lead with 1:38 to play in the third quarter.

Arkansas 52, Louisiana Monroe 6--Robby Hampton threw four touchdown passes and linebacker J.J. Jones returned his first career interception for a touchdown as the Razorbacks (4-1) defeated the Indians (1-5) at Fayetteville, Ark.

Hampton, the first Arkansas quarterback to throw four touchdown passes since 1983, was 12 of 20 for 168 yards in the first half and finished 15 of 26 for 212 yards.

Vanderbilt 17, Wake Forest 10--The Commodores (2-4) were able to hold off the Demon Deacons (0-5) at Winston-Salem, N.C., as a fourth-down pass by Wake Forest quarterback James MacPherson with about a minute left fell incomplete.

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