Auburn outlasts Nebraska to win Cotton Bowl

Updated: January 2, 2007, 2:44 AM ET
SportsTicker

DALLAS -- Carl Stewart played the role of unlikely hero, making Auburn's first victory over Nebraska a big one.

Stewart scored a pair of touchdowns and No. 10 Auburn received a big performance from its defense in the second half en route to a 17-14 victory over No. 22 Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl.

Stewart entered the game with three TDs all season but nearly matched that total to lead the Tigers (11-2), who were appearing in the Cotton Bowl for the first time since a 36-16 loss to Texas A&M on January 1, 1986.

The Tigers, who had lost their three previous meetings against the Cornhuskers, surrendered just 230 total yards.

John Vaughn's 42-yard field goal midway through the third quarter snapped a 14-14 tie.

Stewart scored the only two times he touched the ball, on a nine-yard TD catch in the first quarter and a one-yard run in the second that gave Auburn a 14-7 lead.

"Carl's a guy that makes plays, made plays for us all year long," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "He's a big play guy. He knows how to play different positions. But Carl has been a big play guy for us all year long."

The Cornhuskers (9-5) tied the game on a 20-yard TD run by Brandon Jackson in the second quarter but were unable to generate much offense after the break.

"We're disappointed in this game today, but we have got to give credit to Auburn," Nebraska coach Bill Callahan said. "They stiffened up at the crucial time to shut us down, so you've got to credit their defense. I thought that of all the teams that we played this year, that was the fastest defense with the most speed we have seen."

Nebraska's best offensive series came in the first quarter when it took the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards in 15 plays to take a 7-0 lead. Zac Taylor capped the scoring drive with a 13-yard TD pass to Nate Swift.

Taylor completed 14-of-26 passes for 126 yards. He was intercepted once and sacked twice. His interception was a big one and changed the momentum of the game.

After forcing Auburn to punt after gaining seven yards on is opening possession, Nebraska drove into Auburn territory but Taylor threw a pass behind Terrance Nunn that was deflected and intercepted by linebacker Karibi Dede.

Dede rumbled to the Cornhusker 9 and set up Stewart's first TD to tie the game, 7-7, with 56 seconds left in the first quarter.

"We were lucky to be in the game after the first half," Tuberville said. "And that's typical of Auburn. Win and win ugly. And we did that today. But we found away. And that's how this team's done it all year long." Auburn's only other TD drive was 14 yards and was set up by a failed fake punt attempt by Nebraska on 4th-and-1 on its own 29. A fumble on a reverse gave the Tigers great field position and Stewart capped the drive with a one-yard plunge.

"It was my call. It didn't work, obviously, but nonetheless, it was still early enough in the ball game that if it didn't work and if it faltered, we were still in a good position we felt to come back," Callahan said. "We fumbled the exchange, then lost some critical yardage, so that hurt us. We got behind the eight ball on the short field."

Marlon Lucky was one of Nebraska's few bright spots on offense, rushing for 88 yards on 25 carries and catching six passes for 67 yards.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index