Sept. 6, 2003
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA – Two games into the season, the heralded Auburn Tigers are still seeking their first win. They haven’t even scored a touchdown, for that matter.
Freshman Reggie Ball threw for one touchdown and set up two other scores as Georgia Tech handed No. 17 Auburn another stunning loss, beating the Tigers 17-3 Saturday in the first meeting between the schools in 16 years.
Auburn (0-2) began the season ranked sixth in The Associated Press rankings, and at least one magazine picked the Tigers as the best team in the country. That goal has already gone by the wayside, the victim of an inept offense that seemed totally confused against the undersized Georgia Tech defense.
After getting routed at home by Southern California 23-0, the Tigers were held to 226 yards by Georgia Tech (1-1). Jason Campbell was sacked eight times and took a ferocious beating nearly every time he dropped back.
And what about Auburn’s supposedly powerful running game? With all the sacks thrown in, the Tigers were held to just 42 yards on 40 carries.
The game was the first at expanded Bobby Dodd Stadium, where the capacity was raised from 43,000 to 55,000 with the addition of a new deck in the north end zone. Nearly all the new seats were filled with Auburn fans, but they didn’t have much to cheer about.
At the end, most of the orange-clad bunch was on the streets on Atlanta. The fans wearing gold stormed the field at the end, quickly ripping down both goal posts while chanting “Reggie! Reggie! Reggie!”
Ball, the first true freshman ever to start an opener at quarterback for Georgia Tech, set the tone on his team’s first offensive play. Nate Curry got loose behind the secondary and hauled in a 54-yard pass, which set up Dan Burnett’s 22-yard field goal.
Ball clinched the victory with the first touchdown pass of his young career, a perfectly thrown ball to Mark Logan for a 26-yard scoring play late in the third quarter. It was Logan’s first career TD.
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Auburn still had plenty of time to get back in the game, but the Tigers’ offense is a mess. Running backs Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown are supposed to carry the load, but Georgia Tech blitzed heavily and dared the Tigers to win through the air. They couldn’t.
Amid all the punishment, Campbell managed to complete 19 of 31 passes for 184 yards. That was about it for the offense – Williams ran 13 times for 37 yards, while Brown was held to 47 yards on 11 carries.
Georgia Tech went up 10-0 in the second quarter on P.J. Daniels’ 1-yard touchdown plunge. The drive stayed alive when the Yellow Jackets faked a punt on fourth-and-1, snapping the ball directly to the up-back, safety Chris Reis, who ran for 4 yards.
Reggie Ball is lifted up fans who stormed the field after Tech defeated No. 17 Auburn, 17-3.
Ball had something to prove against Auburn, which backed off on a scholarship offer late in the recruiting process. Georgia Tech is sure glad to have him. He completed 9 of 21 for 149 yards, rushed eight times for 24 yards and showed poise far beyond his 18 years.
Auburn finally scored for the first time this season with 33 seconds left in the first half. Even that score was a bit of a disappointment as the Tigers couldn’t punch it in with first-and-goal at the Georgia Tech 6.
Brown ran for 2 yards, then Campbell threw two straight incompletions before John Vaughn booted a 22-yard field goal.
The schools are among the oldest rivals in the Deep South, meeting for the first time in 1892. But the series ended in 1987 because of scheduling difficulties.
After waiting 16 years to get another crack at the Tigers, Georgia Tech made the most of its opportunity. The victory was its first over Auburn since 1978.