Missed field goals prove costly for Auburn

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- This season, there was no reprieve for
Auburn's John Vaughn.

Vaughn's 39-yard field goal attempt in overtime hit the left
upright, giving No. 7 LSU a 20-17 victory over No. 16 Auburn on
Saturday night.

Last year, Auburn beat LSU 10-9 on Courtney Taylor's touchdown
with 1:14 remaining. Vaughn initially missed the extra point, but a
penalty gave him a second chance. In this season's rematch, he
missed five field goals, including a 49-yarder in the final seconds
of regulation that would have won it.

"About three of the kicks tonight, when I hit them I thought
they were good. I got a little unlucky and they went right or
left," Vaughn said. "The last one tonight, I thought I hit it
pretty good and when I looked up I knew I was probably going to
need a little bit of luck right there."

Auburn (5-2, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) had won 13 straight
against SEC opponents, one short of the school record.

Auburn took a 17-14 lead with 4:52 remaining in the fourth
quarter. Brandon Cox capped a 13-play, 87-yard drive with a 5-yard
scoring pass to Anthony Mix on fourth down.

But LSU, which also missed two field goals in the game, tied it
on Chris Jackson's 44-yarder with 1:40 to play.

Auburn's Kenny Irons rushed for a career-high 218 yards, the
most allowed by LSU since Alabama's Shaun Alexander had 291 in
1996. He appeared to put Auburn in good position to win with a
19-yard run to the LSU 36 with 27 seconds remaining in the fourth
quarter. But Cox completed a pass inbounds to Taylor, and Auburn
was out of timeouts.

The clock kept running, and Auburn spiked the ball with 6.8
seconds remaining. Vaughn missed, sending the game into overtime.

"We can't blame it on one person," Irons said. "Everybody
made mistakes. We just have to keep our heads up."

LSU (5-1, 4-1) had the ball first in overtime, but had to settle
for Jackson's 30-yard field goal after Early Doucet dropped a pass
in the end zone. The LSU defense then held, setting up Vaughn's
last miss into the wind.

"As a kicker you have to kick in the wind," Vaughn said.
"They had to kick in the wind, too."

Irons was the SEC offensive player of the week after rushing for
182 yards at Arkansas last weekend. He gave Auburn a 10-7 lead over
LSU with an electrifying 74-yard touchdown run in the third. Irons
appeared to be stopped for a short gain, then broke free of the
defense and sprinted downfield to the end zone.

LSU answered with JaMarcus Russell's 18-yard scoring pass to
Dwayne Bowe, then squandered a chance to increase its lead early in
the fourth quarter. On third down, Russell found Bowe open in the
back of the end zone, but the receiver couldn't hold on. Colt David
missed a 28-yard kick on the next play.

"Every great player drops a touchdown pass," Bowe said. "I'm
just happy I got mine out of the way early. That will be the last
one, guaranteed."

Auburn drove back into field goal range, but Vaughn missed from
37 yards with 11:21 left in the fourth. He also missed kicks of 54
and 41 yards.

Both teams were coming off sloppy wins. LSU beat No. 18 Florida
21-17 last weekend despite five turnovers. Auburn rallied for a
34-17 win at Arkansas after Cox threw two first-half interceptions.

Neither team turned the ball over this weekend, although they
both struggled to move the ball at times. Russell went 16-of-33 for
190 yards, and Cox was 16-of-40 for 221 yards.

"JaMarcus Russell is playing with a little bit of a dinged arm,
and he played well," LSU coach Les Miles said. "He fought with
courage in him."

LSU led 7-3 at halftime after Skyler Green returned a punt 66
yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.

"That is football. You have got to execute and tonight the
kicking game wasn't there for us," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville
said. "They ran that punt back, we made a mistake but that's part
of it."

Vaughn kicked a 26-yard field goal in the second quarter, but
his misses later in the game helped LSU stay in the thick of the
conference title race. Alabama (7-0, 5-0) leads the SEC West.

"It was a relief to me," Bowe said. "If I had caught that
touchdown pass I could have sealed the victory. When that kicker
missed it I almost cried. I'm just glad we came out with a

Joseph Addai rushed for 105 yards for LSU, which has won four
straight since a 30-27 overtime loss to Tennessee.

Auburn has won 20 of 22 overall -- its previous SEC loss was at
Georgia on Nov. 15, 2003. Auburn went 4-0 against top 10 teams last
year en route to an undefeated season.

The crowd of 92,664 was the largest in Tiger Stadium history,
eclipsing last week's mark of 92,402.