Tony Stevens (above) caught his first touchdown of the season.
Auburn, Ala.--It has been a long time since Auburn Tigers wide receiver Tony Stevens has caught a touchdown pass. When he was on the receiving end of a 13-yard strike from Jeremy Johnson in the back of the end zone Saturday in the Tigers’ 56-34 victory over Idaho, it was only the second touchdown of his career. The first was as a freshman in 2013 against Western Carolina.
“It has been a long time,” said Stevens who Coach Gus Malzahn says has shown improvement in recent weeks. “It was an option pass. They kind of blitzed on the play. Jeremy had his eyes up and saw me. I was ready for it. My goal every game is to get into the end zone and I finally did it today.”
Stevens hasn’t had a stellar season. He went into the Idaho game with only eight catches, but had a season high three catches for 28 yards and the touchdown against the Vandals.
“I just try to go out there and do my role,”?he said. “I’m happy. I just try to get out there and execute and get the ball. Right now, I’m enjoying it. I’ve having fun with my teammates and these last few games with the wide outs (Ricardo Louis and Jonathan Wallace). They’ve been helping me with my game.”
With highly-ranked Alabama coming to Jordan-Hare Stadium next Saturday, the challenge is clear. “We’ve got to go out and execute whatever the game plan is, practice this week hard and get out there Saturday and take care of business,” he said.
In other news and notes:
*Auburn captains were Jonathan Wallace, Justin Garrett, Carl Lawson and Devonte Danzey. The Tigers won the toss and elected to receive. They drove 66 yards on eight plays with Peyton Barber scoring on a two-yard run the cap the drive. It was the third straight game that Auburn has scored a touchdown on its first possession.
*The rushing touchdown by Barber gave him 13 for the season, moving him into an eighth place tie with five others. Tre Mason holds the school record for touchdowns rushing in a season with 23 in 2013. Barber needs 53 yards with the Alabama game and a bowl contest to reach 1,000 yards for the season.
*As expected, Jeremy Johnson got the start at quarterback. Jonathan Wallace took snaps with the second team while injured Sean White didn’t take any snaps in warmups.
*With Austin Golson leaving the Georgia game the week before, Devonte Danzey got the start at center after spelling Golson the week before. Left tackle Shon Coleman was held out with Robert Leff getting the start in his place. Stephen Roberts started at safety the second straight game with Tray Matthews coming off an injury. Matthews did see some action, entering the game in the second quarter. Kamryn Pettway opened at H-back where Chandler Cox had been starting.
*Seeing their first action for Auburn were walk-ons Tucker Brown, Daniel Pond, Logan Rice, Lawyer Tillman and Tucker Tuberville. Former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville was at the game after his Cincinnati Bearcats played Thursday night. Tuberville had two rushes for 14 yards. He didn’t attempt a pass. Tillman, son of former Auburn wide receiver standout Lawyer Tillman, rushed five times for 24 yards.
*Jeremy Johnson completed his first five passes for 54 yards in the first quarter before misfiring on an attempt to Ricardo Louis who slipped on the play. His second quarter rushing touchdown on a zone read was his fourth of the season and he added his fifth on a zone read in the third quarter. His five rushing TDs are second on the team to Peyton Barber’s 13. Johnson finished with 13 completions on 19 attempts for 263 yards and two touchdowns--one each to Louis and Tony Stevens.
*Jovon Robinson’s 13-yard first-quarter TD rush was his second score of the season, and his career long for a scoring play. Johnson just missed the 100-yard barrier in the first half with 99 yards on 15 carries. He didn’t have a carry in the second half and missed out on an opportunity got his second career 100-yard rushing game. It was Robinson’s fourth straight game with 90 or more yards rushing.
*Roc Thomas’ 56-yard TD run was a career long for Thomas and Auburn’s longest TD run of the season by a running back. It’s Thomas’ second touchdown of 50 or more yards this season. His other was a 51-yard TD catch from Jeremy Johnson versus Jacksonville State. It was his third career rushing TD and fourth career score.
*Melvin Ray’s 14-yard first-quarter reception gives him 25 of 29 career catches for either a first down or a score
*Tre Williams’ fumble recovery in the second quarter was the first of the sophomore linebacker’s career.
*Auburn kickers have now converted 117 consecutive PAT attempts back to the 2013 Tennessee game. Daniel Carlson has 90 consecutive made PATs in his career. Carlson’s streak is now the fourth longest in Auburn history, passing Cody Parkey (89 consecutive from 2011-13). Carlson is seventh in Auburn career kick scoring with 204 career points scored. He is tied for seventh in career field goals made with 38, and eighth in career PAT made with 90.
*Idaho placekicker Austin Rehkow entered the contest tied with the top field goal percentage in the country with 20 or more field goals with 20-23. The All-American Rehkow was 2-2 from 25 and 45 yards against the Tigers while Carlson did not attempt a field goal Saturday.
*Prior to the game Shon Coleman was presented the James Owens Courage Award. Coleman overcame a battle with leukemia that delayed his playing at Auburn for a couple of years while he attended school on scholarship. Owens broke the color barrier in 1969 as Auburn’s first black scholarship football player. Owens has ALS that has gradually limited his mobility.