Auburn smacks down UVa. in Chick-fil-A

Auburn rode a 21-point second quarter to a 28-17 halftime lead, and the Tigers dominated on special teams en route to a 43-24 win over Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Virginia (8-5) scored first on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Michael Rocco to Kris Burd at the 8:05 mark of the first quarter to give the Cavs a 7-0 lead. Auburn (8-5) tied the game at 7 on a three-yard run by Kiehl Frazier following the first of two blocked punts.

A second Rocco-to-Burd touchdown, this time from six yards out, made it 14-7 UVa. at the 12:59 mark in the second. Auburn answered quickly, marching 85 yards on six plays capped by a three-yard Onterio McCalebb touchdown run to tie the game at 14.

Auburn then executed a successful onside kick and got a one-yard TD run by Frazier five plays later to go up 21-14 with 10;33 to go before the half.

Virginia seemed poised to answer, but a Rocco-to-Perry Jones pass in the end zone on a third-down play fell incomplete, and a fake field goal run by holder Jacob Hodges came up short. Auburn marched 88 yards on nine plays and scored on a 25-yard pass to McCalebb from Barrett Trotter to make it 28-14 Auburn with 59 seconds left in the first half.

UVa. drove to the Auburn 7 before settling for a 24-yard Robert Randolph field goal at the half to cut the deficit to 28-17.

The Tigers drove 80 yards on nine plays on their first drive of the third quarter with a 22-yard Tre Mason run making it 35-17. The Cavs responded with a 10-play, 79-yard drive capped by a Kevin Parks one-yard run that gave UVa. some life at 35-24. But after the Virginia defense finally got a stop on the next Auburn series, UVa. backpedaled and had to punt from its end zone, and the Jimmy Howell attempt was blocked for a Tigers safety.

A pair of Cody Parkey field goals closed out the scoring.

Rocco had a career night for Virginia in the losing effort, completing 26 of his 41 pass attempts for 312 yards. Burd recorded his ninth 100-yard-plus receiving game, finishing with six catches for 103 yards.

Jones caught seven balls for 90 yards and also had 32 yards on eight carries on the ground.

Virginia was without the services of first-team all-ACC cornerback Chase Minnfield and starting linebacker Steve Greer, both of whom missed the game due to injuries.

Auburn lost its starting quarterback, Clinton Moseley, to a first-quarter injury. The tandem of Trotter and Fraizer did well in his absence – with Trotter completing 11 of his 18 pass attempts for 175 yards and Frazier running for 55 yards on 16 carries.

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