Auburn, Ala.--Quan Bray’s last home football game as an Auburn Tiger will go down as a record-setting one for the senior from nearby LaGrange, Ga.
The senior wide receiver, who also returns punts and kickoffs, scored on a 23-yard jet sweep for the Tigers’ first touchdown to ignite a 31-7 victory over Samford Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Bray ran the play in the absence of Ricardo Louis, who was held out of action with an undisclosed injury.
The touchdown was Bray’s sixth of the season--three on receptions, two via punt returns and one rushing. Bray is the first Auburn player in a season to score touchdowns by a rush, receiving and punt return. It is Bray’s ninth career touchdown (along with six receiving and two punt returns).
“We started slow and will have to get that corrected starting with Sunday preparing for Alabama,” Bray said. “Once we got going, we kept it going. We know it’s going to be a hard-fought battle. It’s the Iron Bowl, there’s nothing else you can say. We are going to take care of business.
“As far as our offense struggling some, that’s not totally surprising,” he said. “It happens, but we can get clicking at the right time. I am sure we are going to do just that next week.”
Part of Auburn’s slow start may have been that Samford knew the plays the Tigers were going to run, Bray noted. Former Auburn player and graduate assistant coach Kodi Burns is the running backs coach for the Bulldogs and may have been the culprit.
“I heard them calling the plays,” Bray said. “We still have to execute them and once we did, we got going and did what we had to do. I’m sure Kodi Burns still knew our plays. We switched a couple of things when we figured out what was going on.”
Bray fumbled during a punt return for the third straight game, but unlike the Texas A&M and Georgia game miscues that resulted in lost fumbles, teammate Marcus Davis came up with the loose ball against Samford.
“That’s something I’ve got to work on extra in practice,” said Bray, who entered the contest averaging 18.6 a punt return, third best in the nation. “I’ve got to stop that or it will lose us a game. It’s something that happens in football, but I’ve got to correct it.”
Playing his final game at Jordan-Hare Stadium is something that Bray said he believes he would hit him later as he got a chance to reflect on the entire day that included recognizing seniors and their families. That was difficult for Bray whose mother was shot and killed his freshman year by his father who is serving a life prison term.
“Playing in this stadium gives me the chills,”?he said. “Being part of the Auburn family is a blessing to me. It’s something I will always cherish.”
In other news and notes:
*With 129 yards against Samford, Cameron Artis-Payne is now fifth in single-season rushing at Auburn with 1,405 yards. He passed Kenny Irons (1,293 in 2005), Carnell Williams (1,307 in 2003), James Brooks (1,314 in 1980), Ben Tate (1,362 in 2009) and Brent Fullwood (1,391 in 1986). In fourth place is Cam Newton (1,473 in 2010).
*This was Artis-Payne’s eighth 100-yard game this season and 10th of his career. Artis-Payne’s second-quarter touchdown run was his 11th of the season and 17th of his career and he is now 17th in Auburn career rushing with 2,015 yards.
*Corey Grant’s third-quarter touchdown reception was his first career TD reception. He has 10 career scores (8 rush, 1 reception, 1 kick return TD).
*Nick Marshall’s third-quarter TD pass to Grant was his 15th touchdown pass of the season and 29th career touchdown pass. He is responsible for 52 touchdowns during his career (fourth all-time at Auburn).
*Kris Frost’s third-quarter interception was the first of his career. Frost recorded 13 tackles, his second double-figure tackle performance of the season. The other was a career-best 14 tackles versus South Carolina. It’s the sixth double-digit tackle performance by an Auburn player this season.
*Adams’ second-quarter sack was his third of the season. Elijah Daniel’s second-quarter sack was his first of the season.
*Jonathan Wallace’s 18-yard, fourth-quarter reception was the first of his career.
*Samford Head Coach Pat Sullivan, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1971 as Auburn’s quarterback, is the winningest coach in Samford history with 48 victories, one more than former Auburn coach Terry Bowden had for the Bulldogs.