I was one of the first people in the press box at the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but that was good as it gave me time to settle in.
Seated beside me was Lyn Scarbrough from Lindy’s Sports and he was nice enough to spend the evening talking to me. I also had time to talk to Kristi Dosh and Chadd Scott for a few moments. Bryan Fischer and Spencer Hall were here but I didn’t get to meet either of them.
I have a different style of game recap that should be coming out on National Football Authority so I put together a more dry version for here.
Side Note: I managed to get a parachuting cow for my wife.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl was played in front of 72,919 fans, the 15th straight sellout for the bowl. The crowd was loud, but since both the Auburn Tigers and the Virginia Cavaliers wear the same colors, it was hard to distinguish which team had the most fans in attendance.
The game itself was an intriguing matchup of a young, but talented, Auburn team versus a methodical, veteran Virginia squad. However the game was ultimately decided on special teams plays.
Virginia received the open kickoff and went 34 yards on nine plays before punting the ball to Auburn, tackling the Auburn returner at the seven yard line.
Auburn looked tentative on their first possession and was unable to convert for a first down. The Tigers immediately punted the ball back to Virginia after just three plays.
The Cavaliers quickly went 64 yards on just five plays for a touchdown on a balanced drive that saw both running and passing plays go over 20 yards each.
Auburn again floundered on offense with a four play, 12 yard drive that lasted just 56 seconds before they again punted the ball back to Virginia. The Tigers also lost starting quarterback Clint Moseley on the last play of the drive and the game was starting to look like it was getting away from the Tigers.
This time Virginia had a little more trouble moving the ball, only gaining 11 yards on six plays. Garrett Harper then blocked the punt for Auburn and the Tigers took over at the Virginia 15 yard line, in great position to tie the score.
Auburn did just that with a quick two play drive, capped off with a three yard rush by Kiehl Frazier.
The Cavaliers were only able to hold onto the ball for two plays before running back Perry Jones fumbled the ball on a nice play by the games defensive MVP, Chris Davis, and Ryan Smith recovered the ball for Auburn.
The Tigers had a little more trouble moving the ball on this possession, only gaining five yards on the drive and ending with no points after kicker Cody Parkey missed from 44 yards out.
Virginia took over at their own 27 yard line and drove for the go ahead touchdown in 10 plays, finishing with a six yard reception by Kris Burd.
Auburn was determined to not let Virginia pull away as they gained 60 yards on their first play when running back Onterio McCalebb, the games offensive MVP scampered down the left side line for the big gain. A few plays later McCalebb ran the ball into the end zone from three yards out to once again tie the score, this time 14-14 after the extra point.
Auburn again used special teams to keep momentum on their side by executing a beautiful onside kick that was recovered by their own kicker, Parkey.
By the Tigers maintaining possession of the ball, the Virginia defense seemed to lose their energy and Auburn drove 59 yards in just 5 plays for another touchdown on a one yard run by Frazier.
Virginia countered with a promising drive that had plays that included a 17 yard run and passing plays of 11, 16 and 17 yards. However the drive stalled at the Auburn 15 yard line and the Cavaliers lined up to attempt and short field goal. Instead, the play was a fake but the intended receiver tripped and Virginia was stopped short so Auburn took over at their own 12 yard line.
The Tigers again took advantage of the Virginia special teams mistake and took just 3:32 to drive 88 yards for another touchdown. The big play on the drive was a 28 yard pass from Barrett Trotter to McCalebb and the touchdown play was a 25 yard pass from Trotter to McCalebb.
With just 54 seconds before halftime, Virginia managed to get off six plays, including passes of 25 and 29 yards, allowing kicker Robert Randolph time to kick a 24 yard field goal to end the half and cut the Auburn lead to 28-17.
Auburn received the second half kickoff and drove 80 yards on nine plays that finished on a 22 yard touchdown run by Tre Mason.
Virginia countered with a touchdown drive of their own when running back Kevin Parks scored from a yard out with 6:20 left in the third quarter.
Auburn took over at their own 25 yard line to begin their next possession, but was stopped after five plays and punted the ball back to Virginia.
The Cavaliers took over on their own six yard line, and barely avoided giving up a safety when quarterback Michael Rocco was sacked at the one yard line. However another special teams mistake did lead to a safety for Auburn when Angelo Blackson blocked the Virginia punt out of the end zone. This gave Auburn a 37-24 lead, the ball and momentum.
Auburn returned the free kick 62 yards to the Virginia 15 yard line but had some trouble moving the ball on this possession. The Tigers were also called for a personal foul penalty which made for a long field goal attempt but Parkey was again able to convert to extend the Auburn lead to 40-24.
Virginia worked a nice eight play drive but it finally ended on an incomplete fourth down pass and Auburn took over at their own 33 yard line.
The tigers moved the ball 47 yards on eight plays and were aided by a 15 yard personal foul penalty on a late hit by Virginia. Parkey added another field goal to make the score 43-24 in favor of Auburn.
Virginia unsuccessfully tried to score once more when Rocco was intercepted by Auburn with just 6:57 left in the game.
Auburn finished out the game with a clock eating, ball control possession that saw them kneel on the ball at the Virginia four yard line, then celebrate the victory by dancing with fans and catching parachuting stuffed Chick-fil-A cows.