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Pain can't spoil Newton's night

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Statistically, the last game of Cam Newton’s junior season was not his best.

Cam Newton fights for yards/ staff photo

Newton, Auburn’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, completed 20-of-34 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns. He ran 22 times for 64 yards. He threw an interception and lost a fumble that led to Oregon’s tying touchdown.

Early in the fourth quarter, linebacker Clay Matthews delivered a withering hit to his back that left him playing in pain.

But Newton did what he set out to do when he signed with Auburn on Dec. 31 of 2009. He celebrated a 22-19 over Oregon and the BCS national championship with his teammates.

Newton was clearly in pain when he came late to the postgame press conference.

“I am a blessed individual,” Newton said. “I wouldn’t have done it without these guys sitting to the left and right of me. I’m not here to take up all the time. I don’t want anybody to feel sorry for me. Nobody felt sorry for Auburn, but we got the last laugh.”

Newton was embroiled in controversy from early November after it was revealed his father had sought money from Mississippi State. His character was attacked in print, online and over the airwaves. But he never faltered.

Senior linebacker Josh Bynes said the criticism only served to spur Newton to do even more.

“Through all the things they said about him, he came back and played 10 times harder, ran the ball 10 times harder, threw the ball 10 times more accurate,” Bynes said. “… He is definitely a great person, a great player. Regardless of what was going on, he came each day with the biggest smile on his face.”

It wasn’t Newton who climbed the podium as the game’s offensive MVP. It was freshman Mike Dyer, but Dyer left no doubt who was the leader.

“All the things that were said about him, he kept his head up and played great games,” Dyer said. “He kept us winning. He ran hard tonight. He came out there and played Auburn football. He is an Auburn man.

“Tonight, we kind of picked up for him because he was in pain and hurt. But he still played. He didn’t quit.”

Newton has to decide by Saturday if he will return for his senior season. He would sit down with head coach Gene Chizik and his family and make a decision.

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