It was a good day for Bates and his fellow seniors who took part in a 51-7 win over Alabama A&M, only the third win for the Tigers against eight losses with Alabama at Tuscaloosa Saturday to close out a spiraling season only two years removed from a national championship.
While he only recorded two tackles against the Bulldogs, Bates reclaimed the team lead in tackles with 91 over Demetruce McNeal who has 90. Both rank among the leading tacklers in the SEC.
The Tigers allowed only a touchdown and 208 yards against the out-manned Bulldogs from the FCS.
"We played with a lot of energy and did what the coaches wanted us to do," Bates said. "Overall, I thought we had a great game today. The offense, defense and special teams all played well. We had fun."
As for playing his final game at home as an Auburn Tiger, Blake is still dealing with it.
"I don't think it has really set in yet. It is always good to play at home. It will probably be tougher down the road when I think have more time to think about it," he says.
In other news and notes:
*Tre Mason capped a 66-yard, 10-play drive with a 19-yard touchdown run on the Tigers' opening drive. It was the second time this season Auburn scored on its opening possession (ULM was the first) and the first time the Tigers have scored in The Opening quarter since a 12-10 loss to LSU on Sept. 22.
*When Onterio McCalebb scored on a 19-yard run to end Auburn's second possession, it was only the fourth time this season the Tigers had scored touchdowns on consecutive possessions. Auburn scored on three straight possessions in a 31-28 win over ULM on Sept. 15 and on two occasions during a 42-7 homecoming win over New Mexico State on Nov. 3 the Tigers scored touchdowns back-to-back.
*Mason's 86-yard touchdown run gave the Tigers a six-pointer for a third straight possession against Alabama A&M and Jay Prosch's three-yard run made it four touchdowns in as many possessions. The Tigers finished perfect for the first half when Jonathan Wallace connected with Sammie Coates for a nine-yard touchdown pass with 23 seconds left before intermission to make it five touchdowns in five possessions. The streak ended on the Tigers' first possession of the third quarter when they failed to convert a fourth and four inside the Alabama A&M 35-yard line.
*Mason's 86-yard score was the first TD run of 80 or more yards since Carnell Williams' 80-yarder on the first offensive snap of Auburn's 28-23 win over Alabama in 2003. It was the fourth-longest rushing play in Auburn history and the longest since Brent Fullwood's 86-yard TD run against Mississippi State in 1986.
*Mason finished the opening quarter with 141 yards and two touchdowns rushing on only six carries and had 165 yards on nine rushes the first half. He carried only three times in the third quarter for 16 yards to total 181 yards rushing on 12 carries.
The 181 yards was the most rushing by in a single game by Mason, who has 920 yards for the season. The sophomore went over the 1,000-yard mark for his career and now has 1,081 yards on the ground. With two touchdowns against Alabama A&M, Mason has eight for the season--seven coming in the last six games.
*With 165 first-half yards rushing, Mason joins Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson with the most yards rushing by an Auburn back in the first half since 1980. Jackson had 206 in the first half against Southwestern Louisiana (Louisiana-Lafayette) in 1985 and 170 against Ole Miss, also in 1985.
*There were several changes in Auburn's starting lineup against the Bulldogs. C.J. Uzomah, who has a broken finger, opened at tight end in place of Brandon Fulse. Trent Fisher was at free safety ahead of Demetruce McNeal. Jake Holland returned to middle linebacker ahead of Cassanova McKinzy.
Chad Slade started in place of Greg Robinson at left tackle where Robinson had started the first 10 games; Christian Westerman started at left guard for John Sullen, who shifted over to started at right guard, where Slade normally starts. A redshirt freshman who has battled a foot injury all season, Westerman was making his first college start.
*Thirteen Auburn seniors were recognized at Senior Day were Daren Bates, T'Sharvan Bell, DeAngelo Benton, Emory Blake, Jonathan Evans, Philip Lutzenkirchen, Onterio McCalebb, Ikeem Means, Anthony Morgan, Ashton Richardson, Travante Stallworth, John Sullen and Jamar Travis.
Richardson didn't make the game because he was one of 12 finalists who interviewed to become a Rhodes Scholar. He was tied up with the interviews on Friday and Saturday. Richardson notified Auburn officials following the game that he wasn't one of the two finalists selected.
*The senior class has compiled a 33-18 record that includes a 14-0 run in 2010 to capture the BCS National Championship.
*Auburn and Alabama A&M, which is located in Normal near Huntsville, met for the first time Saturday. It was also the first meeting between Auburn and a representative of the SWAC. The Tigers are 90-46-2 in games played against teams from the State of Alabama.
*The Tigers are 80-27-6 in final home games of the season.