By Scott Latta
UA Media Relations
AUBURN, Ala. Alabama held Auburn to 282 total yards in Saturday's 72nd edition of the Iron Bowl, but could manage only 225 yards in the game, a season low, dropping the game to the Tigers, 17-10, at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn.
The Auburn defense also held the Tide offense to season lows in passing yards (113) and points in the game.
"I'm very proud of the way the guys competed in the game," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "We just couldn't convert any opportunities. We've got to give Auburn's players a lot of credit. They played well in the game and the defense was pretty good. They ran the ball effectively and we couldn't get it stopped."
Auburn jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, taking its first drive of the game 66 yards in 12 plays to take a 7-0 lead on a three-yard touchdown run from tailback Ben Tate. Auburn would add a 37-yard field goal from kicker Wes Byrum later in the first quarter for the 10-point lead.
Alabama answered with its only touchdown of the night, a two-yard quarterback sneak from junior John Parker Wilson on fourth down to cap an 11-play, 53-yard drive to cut the Auburn lead to three at the half.
Alabama had another chance to score before the half after an interception from freshman Rolando McClain gave the Tide the ball at the Tigers' 19-yard line. With less than a minute to go, however, Wilson was picked off in the end zone by Auburn's Jerraud Powers.
"I felt we played hard," tailback Glen Coffee said. "But playing hard, sometimes, is not enough. We just didn't make enough plays today. This team has been through a lot. The only thing we can do is prepare for next year."
Auburn's second-half touchdown came on a one-yard sneak from quarterback Brandon Cox to extend the Tiger lead to 17-7. Alabama would add a 49-yard field goal from sophomore Leigh Tiffin to cut the lead to 17-10 with 2:11 left in the fourth quarter, but Alabama could not successfully convert an onside kick to recover the ball on the ensuing kickoff.
Wilson finished the night 12-of-26 for 113 yards with an interception. Senior DJ Hall had three catches for 29 yards and junior tight end Nick Walker had two catches for 27 yards. Coffee, in his first action since Alabama's 27-24 win over Ole Miss on Oct. 13, had 20 carries for 60 yards. Sophomore Roy Upchurch had eight carries for 41 yards.
Alabama (6-6, 4-4) will now wait to see if it will receive its fourth-straight bowl bid.
"It's hard to swallow this loss when you start the year off so good, and not finish," said senior linebacker Darren Mustin, who finished Saturday's game with seven tackles, including one for loss. "I just have to talk to these underclassmen because I'm done and have no more left. Who knows what the future holds for me? I just hope these underclassmen learn from this year and finish, because we didn't finish this year."