Georgia Tech: 17
In the 2003 home opener, Georgia Tech would play host to the long-time rival Auburn Tigers. The teams first met in 1892 in the inaugural season for each squad, and had played a total of ninety times throughout history. But despite the long-time rivalry, scheduling conflicts resulted in a sixteen year break in the series, which was last played on October 17, 1987. The Tigers had won the previous nine meetings between the squads dating back to 1979. Tech’s last victory over Auburn came in the form of a 24-10 win at Jordan Hare Stadium on October 21, 1978.
The Tigers entered the season with high hopes, holding the #6 spot in the pre-season AP poll. But their dreams were dashed in week one when the 8th-ranked Southern California Trojans dismantled the War Eagle 23-0 at Jordan Hare en route to the eventual National Championship. Thus the Tigers and Yellow Jackets would square off with a pair of 0-1 records early in the 2003 campaign.
The Jackets forced a punt on the opening Auburn drive and struck quickly when Reggie Ball went deep to Nate Curry for 54 yards to the Tiger 11 yard line. But the Tech offense managed just 6 yards in three plays to follow and was forced to settle for a 22 yard Dan Burnett field goal to jump ahead 3-0 in the early going.
The long-time rivals exchanged punts for the remainder of the first quarter and briefly exchanged fumbles at the start of the second before Tech began at midfield with 10:11 to play. The Tech offense traveled the distance in 12 plays, scoring on a 1 yard run by P.J. Daniels to increase the lead to 10-0 midway through the second period.
Auburn added its lone score of the contest on a 22 yard John Vaughn field goal on the ensuing drive to make it a 10-3 margin at half-time. The Tigers faced a 1st-and-goal from the 6, but were unable to punch the ball into the end zone, as a stingy Tech defense held its ground.
Tech held a seven point margin throughout much of the third quarter before taking over at the Auburn 34 following a punt and a facemask on the Tigers. The Jackets then pushed to the 26 with the aid of a pass interference penalty before Ball hit Mark Logan for a diving 26 yard touchdown pass with 1:53 to play in the third. The score extended the Ramblin’ Wreck lead to 17-3.
The Tigers pushed within the Tech 30 twice in the fourth quarter, but were unable to capitalize on either opportunity. The second occasion ended when Dennis Davis picked off Jason Campbell near the Georgia Tech 11 and returned the ball 52 yards to the Tiger 37 to seal the victory.
As time expired, the Yellow Jacket students stormed the field and razed the goal posts to celebrate Tech’s first win over Auburn in 25 years. While the Georgia Tech offense produced when it had to, the victory was largely owed to the strength of the Yellow Jacket defense. John Tenuta’s squad held future NFL backs Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown to a combined 84 yards on 24 carries while sacking Jason Campbell 7 times.
The Tigers would go on to win seven of their remaining ten regular season games to earn a berth in the Music City Bowl against the Wisconsin Badgers, where they would exit with a 28-14 win to finish the season at 8-5, overall.
AU – 14
GT – 13
AU – 40
GT – 102
AU – 20-33-190
GT – 9-21-149
AU – 1
GT – 0
AU – 2-1
GT – 3-1
AU – 10-93
GT – 9-65
Game Summary: http://www.ramblinwreck.com/sports/m-footbl/recaps/090603aaa.html