Dyer breaks Jackson’s freshman record

Mike Dyer passed Bo Jacksons 29 year freshman yards record

Bo Jackson made a beeline through players on the Auburn sideline, found his freshman protege and then grabbed Mike Dyer’s right arm and lifted it in victory.

With Auburn leading Georgia 35-28 in the third quarter, the outcome remained in doubt. But one thing was suddenly clear: Jackson no longer held Auburn’s record for rushing yardage by a freshman.

Dyer’s 11-yard run during a third-period scoring drive surpassed Jackson’s mark of 829 yards, set in 1982. Dyer finished Saturday’s 49-31 win with 60 yards on 13 carries and now has 859 yards after 11 games.

“He (Jackson) came over and said, ‘Hey, I’m proud of you’ and ‘keep your head up. I want you to go out there and break the rest of my records.’

“You can never expect something like this. You can only dream that it will come true. To me, that’s a great memory I’ll have when I leave Auburn. It was a great time, probably not a better moment in the game. (Jackson) showed he cared about Auburn. Coming from him … it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Dyer’s performance, coupled with quarterback Cam Newton’s 151 yards and tailback Onterio McCalebb’s 71 yards, allowed the Tigers to gain 315 yards on the ground against what was the NCAA’s 13th-best rush defense coming into the game. It’s the sixth consecutive conference game Auburn has rushed for 300 or more yards.

“It’s a goal for us to rush for that many yards in every game, but as long as we can come up with a win,” said senior offensive lineman Lee Ziemba.

Auburn has rushed for 3,387 yards this season, just 52 shy of the school’s single-season team rushing mark set in 1985, the year Jackson won the Heisman Trophy.

“It’s a tribute to our offensive line,” offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said. “That’s really tough to do, so I’m proud. I like running the ball … I really do.”

Auburn rushed for 186 yards in a second half in which it scored four touchdowns in as many possessions. Auburn rushed 16 times in the third quarter and attempted no passes.

“We were trying to get a pace going where we could wear them down a little bit,” Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said. “I don’t know if that happened exactly the way we wanted to, but we had some explosive plays in there where they had to run down the field and get reset.”

McCalebb, who rushed for three touchdowns, had a 48-yard burst in the third period that set up the go-ahead score.

“The coaches called the plays and everybody did their assignments,” he said. “I was able to get into the end zone. Coming out of high school, I never thought I would be in this spot my second year in college. Right now, I am just going to enjoy it all I can.”

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