Jeremy Johnson led a turnover free attack vs. the Vandals.
Auburn, Ala.--Quarterback Jeremy Johnson efficiently accounted for four touchdowns and the Auburn defense took the football away three times as the Tigers cruised to a 56-34 victory over the Idaho Vandals on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn improved to 6-5 and became bowl eligible in a game Coach Gus Malzahn was able to extensively play his reserves in the second half.
“I think the best thing is we got the victory, and we got the chance to play a lot of guys late in the game,” Malzahn said. “It got a little sloppy, but it’s a win. We wanted to get our main guys out of there early in the fourth quarter. We are happy that we came out of this one pretty healthy and we got the chance to play a lot of different guys.”
Johnson completed 13-19 passes for 163 yards with touchdown passes to Ricardo Louis and Tony Stevens. He carried the football five times for 23 yards and two more scores while leading an offense that did not have a turnover.
“I felt like I played okay,” Johnson said. “I felt like I could have made some throws I missed, but overall I felt we did good and executed at a high level.
“It was a great win--a lot of momentum going into the next week,”?the junior quarterback added.
The Tigers were out-gained by the Vandals 479-460. Auburn out-rushed Idaho 297-123, but was out-gained 356-163 in the air.
Jovon Robinson rushed for 99 yards vs. Idaho on 15 carries.
“I thought Jeremy (Johnson) did a good job,” Malzahn said. “I thought he did a very good job in the air and I thought he did a very good job on the ground. He managed the offense very well. He made a couple of really good decisions on his own read.”
The Tigers got interceptions from Rudy Ford and Jonathan Jones and scored on defense as Ford weaved through Idaho players on a 48-yard return in the second quarter.
Linebacker Tre Williams recovered a fumble and joked after the game. “I didn’t do anything special,”?he said about the play. “I was in the right place at the right time.”
Williams made seven solo tackles while Blake Countess chipped in with six solos and two assists. Tray Matthews, who missed the last two games with an ankle injury, came off the bench to record six solo tackles and one assist while Ford added four solo tackles and three assists.
First Half Numbers: Auburn held the ball for 44 plays and netted 265 yards with 178 coming on 31 rushing plays. Jovon Robinson carried the ball 15 times for 99 yards, but did not touch it in the second half. Jeremy Johnson hit 10-13 passes for 87 yards and had a 47-yard bomb dropped by Louis.
The Vandals held the football for 36 plays and gained 231 yards with 53 coming on 18 rushes. Idaho completed 11-18 passes for 178 passes.
The Tigers scored on the opening possession, moving 66 yards on eight plays using a fast-paced tempo. Peyton Barber scored from two yards out and finished the day with 47 yards on 12 carries.
Idaho struck quickly for its first score. Elijhaa Penny scored from four yards out after the Vandals gained 69 yards on their first play on a pass that was uncovered down the right sideline.
Auburn regained the lead with a seven-play drive that covered 65 yards with Robinson scoring from 13 yards out.
A goal line stand by the defense forced the Vandals to settle for a 25-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to cut the lead to 14-10.
Auburn then kept the football for 14 plays before cashing in a touchdown on a one-yard keeper at left end by Jeremy Johnson.
The Tigers stretched the lead to 28-10 after the first turnover of the day, a fumble that Williams recovered at the Idaho 23-yard line. Four plays later Louis caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Johnson at the 7:48 mark.
Just over a minute later the score was 35-10 when Ford intercepted a pass and cut across the field on the way to a 48-yard touchdown return.
Idaho scored the final points of the first half by driving 75 yards on 12 plays to make the score 35-17 at the break.
Idaho got the football to start the second half and immediately gambled. On fourth down and four from their 31, the Vandals passed over the middle, but Blake Countess made the deflection.
Five plays later the Tigers scored on a five-yard touchdown pass to Tony Stevens, who was uncovered when the Tigers caught Idaho in a safety blitz.
The Vandals gambled again on their next possession, but converted a fourth down and three at heir 33 on a QB scramble. Idaho then moved the football into the red zone, but Jonathan Jones ended the threat with an interception in the end zone he returned to the 29-yard line.
Five plays later Johnson scored on a second down and goal QB keeper at left guard from the two-yard line to make the score 49-17 with 6:30 left in the third quarter. The big play of the drive was 56-yard bomb to Louis.
Idaho scored with 2:24 left in the third quarter on a 45-yard field goal to cut the lead to 49-20.
In the fourth quarter Jonathan Wallace’s 2015 debut at quarterback went rather well. The Tigers scored in two plays, both runs by Roc Thomas, who raced around right end from 56 yards out to put the Tigers on top 56-20 with 12:46 to play.
Idaho then moved the ball 81 yards on eight plays as the Tigers played a mixture of backups and first team players. A nine-yard pass from Jake Luton to Callen Hightower cut Auburn’s lead to 56-27 with 10:19 left.
The Vandals scored again on a one-yard run by Luton on a penalty-aided drive that covered 71 yards. Luton got into the end zone on a one-yard keeper at left lend with 5:18 to play.
Next up for the Tigers is the regular season finale, a 2:30 p.m. home game on Saturday vs. Alabama.
Senior linebacker Kris Frost said everyone on the team understands the importance of the Iron Bowl. He said it was a feel-good victory over Idaho. with so many different players contributing. “It does give us confidence and momentum is a big part of this game,” he said.
Worth Noting, Part 1: A total of 23 different Tigers made at least one tackle on Saturday and 11 different players carried the football, including scout team running back Lawyer Tillman, who had five carries for 24 yards.
Worth Noting, Part 2: Walk-on quarterback Tucker Tuberville ran the ball two times for 14 yards with his father, Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville, watching from the stands. “I didn’t know that I was going to play,” the quarterback said. “It was a lot of fun--even more fun than I expected.”
Stat of the Game: The Tigers made six trips into the red zone and scored six touchdowns.