In their first-ever football game vs. Alabama A&M, as well as their first time to play a football team from SWAC, the Tigers jumped to a 35-0 halftime lead to improve its record to 3-8. The visiting Bulldogs ended their season with a 7-4 mark.
The only big disappointment for the Tigers was not getting a shutout, but redshirt junior Dee Ford noted it was a good day because his senior teammates won their last home game as a college players.
"Fortunately for me I have got another year," the defensive end said. "Those guys I came in with I was basically playing for them the whole game."
Ford said other than not getting a shutout, he liked what happened on Saturday. "We played as a team and everybody fought for each other, no matter the circumstance, no matter the record. I felt very good about it."
Freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace, who hit 10-18 passes for 171 yards with no interceptions on a day the Tigers did not have a turnover, agreed with Ford that the highlight of the day was seeing the senior have success.
"It was a lot of fun," Wallace said. "We got some things going early and had some success. I played alright. I still have some things I need to work on. I just have to keep going."
Jonathan Wallace runs the football on Saturday.
Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said, "Certainly it was important for our seniors to go out right and to have fun on their last day. It was one of those days where we could do that. Hats off to the seniors. They've accomplished a lot here and got a championship ring and won a lot of ball games so it was good to see those guys go out on a good note.
"We played pretty well today and I think we got some things accomplished in terms of getting a lot of guys on the field," Chizik added. "The bottom line is getting the win, so overall, it was a good day."
Alabama A&M coach Anthony Jones said the Bulldogs enjoyed the opportunity to play against the Tigers of the SEC. "It was a great experience for our student-athletes, our coaches, our Alabama A&M family and our alumni," he said.
The visitors won the toss and deferred. The Tigers returned a short kickoff to the 34 and steadily moved down the field.
On the 10th play of the possession Mason found running room at left guard behind first-time starter Christian Westerman and raced into the end zone from 19 yards out. Westerman had missed most of the season with a foot injury.
After a three-and-out for the Bulldogs, the Tigers overcame two penalties to drive 60 yards on seven plays. One of the penalties negated a touchdown pass to Sammie Coates.
Once again the score came on a run from 19 yards out, but this time it was Onterio McCalebb running behind the right side of the line to make the score 14-0 with 4:31 left in the quarter.
Auburn stretched the lead to 21-0 in The Opening quarter with a quick-strike possession. Mason's cutback run was the longest play of the season for the Tigers, an 86-yard gainer through the middle of the Alabama A&M defense.
Tre Mason leaves the defense behind on his long touchdown run.
The Tigers scored a touchdown on every possession in the first half to the delight of a crowd of 74,832, a turnout that Chizik said he appreciated because of his team's struggles throughout the season and because the university shut down on Friday for a week-long Thanksgiving break.
Auburn scored two more times in the second quarter. The Tigers moved the football 91 yards on seven plays to go ahead 28-0. Fullback Jay Prosch bulled into the north end zone from three yards out carrying a pack of Bulldogs with him into the end zone.
Coates, who missed his chance for a touchdown catch in the first quarter, scored Auburn's fifth of the half with 23 seconds left before intermission. Wallace threw a perfect strike to the redshirt freshman in the back of the end zone. The Tigers moved 72 yards on nine plays for the score.
At the half Mason had nine carries for 165 yards. As a team the Tigers rushed for 248 yards on 23 first half carries and Wallace hit 7-12 passes for 127 yards.
The Bulldogs had 15 net rushing yards on 13 carries at the half plus 105 yards through the air as they hit 9-14 passes.
Defensive end LaDarius Owens rushes Alabama A&M quarterback Deaunte Mason.
The Tigers were not as sharp in the third quarter. The defense allowed the Bulldogs to drive 88 yards on 10 plays on the opening possession of the half to cut the lead to 35-7. Quarterback Deaunte Mason scored from a yard out on a sneak play.
Auburn then had its only non-scoring drive of the game when Wallace was at quarterback. On a fourth down and four at the Alabama A&M 33, the freshman overthrew an out route to wide open Emory Blake. However, the defense forced a three and out and Auburn drove 77 yards on 11 plays to stretch the lead to 42-7.
McCalebb was featured on that drive and scored on a 14-yard run up the middle with 14:10 left in the final quarter. Chizik said the coaches shut down Mason early and gave McCalebb more carries in the second half because it was Senior Day for McCalebb.
Onterio McCalebb rushed for more than 100 yards vs. the Bulldogs.
That drive was the end of the day for McCalebb as well as Wallace. Kiehl Frazier replaced Wallace, but wasn't able to put the ball in the end zone, however, the Tigers managed to score nine more points. The first two came on a safety caused by a bad snap on a punt that sailed over the punter's head. He caught up with the ball at the two-yard line and batted it out of the back of the end zone.
The final points came when Trent Fisher, who started in place of Demetruce McNeal, returned an interception 60 yards for a score. It was the first interception by an Auburn defensive back this season.
"I have got to thank Kris Frost for the block on their quarterback," said Fisher, a former walk-on safety. "I wanted to score, but without the block I would have had to figure a way out to make the quarterback miss."
The Tigers will close the season with a 2:30 p.m. CST kickoff next Saturday at Alabama.
Asked if winning vs. Alabama would help make up for what has been one of the worst seasons in Auburn history, Chizik said, "I think that anytime you get a win in the Iron Bowl, it really sets the tone for pretty much whatever's happened previously in that year, and I think it sets the tone for the next year, too. A win in the Iron Bowl for anybody is huge."