Sean White (above) runs the football vs. Arkansas State.
Auburn, Ala.--The flat tire repaired and a new turbo-charger added to the engine that powers the offense, the Gus Bus was back in service on Saturday night as the Auburn Tigers cruised to a 51-14 victory over Arkansas State.
A week after scoring 13 points, the Tigers topped that in the first quarter.
A week after gaining just 38 yards in the first half, the Tigers topped that total on one play in the first quarter.
A week after netting 262 yards for the entire game, the Tigers raced past that total in the second quarter on the way to gaining 452 in the first half and 706 for the night as they evened their record at 1-1.
The yardage total was six shy of the school record the 2013 SEC champions gained vs. Western Carolina.
Auburn even managed to play the backups much of the fourth quarter and win that period by a score of 3-0.
The night featured a pair of 100-yard rushers with sophomores Kamryn Pettway (152) and Kerryon Johnson (124) leading the ground attack.
Johnson was not surprised with the news that Auburn had an offensive night that ranked high in the record book. “It felt like it,” he said. “We ran 400 hundred--whatever. That felt great. It also makes you feel good when you physically dominate your opponent. We were able to go right at them.”
Sean White hit 17-23 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns as Malzahn abandoned his revolving quarterbacks approach that did not work in game one.
“That was what Coach felt was the best game plan for Clemson and it didn’t work out,” White said. “I don’t what the reason was. It might not have been the quarterbacks. I don’t know. I really do trust whatever Coach thinks is best.”
Freshman wide receiver Kyle Davis set up a touchdown with this 42-yard reception.
The Tigers scored first at the 6:58 mark on an improvised play by White, who was looking for a receiver, but was going to the ground for a potential sack. Instead, he lateraled the ball to Kerryon Johnson, who scampered 47 yards for a touchdown. The sophomore running back scampered from the right side of the field to the left sideline and hurdled the final would-be tackler with the help of a key block from walk-on receiver Will Hastings.
The Red Wolves answered with the help of a 68-yard pass from Chad Voytik to uncovered Christian Booker who was running free in the middle of the field. A QB sneak from inside the one tied the contest.
The Tigers scored 31 one points in the half to take a commanding lead at the break.
Kamryn Pettway had a breakout performance.
Auburn went ahead for good by moving 65 yards on six plays with Kerryon Johnson scoring on a keeper from a yard out with 2:38 left in the opening quarter.
The first Tiger to score in 2016 not named Kerryon Johnson was senior wideout Tony Stevens, who caught a pass over the middle, made a move and raced into the end zone on a 24-yard play. That made the score 21-7 with 14:10 left in the second quarter.
A trick play made it 28-7 when holder Will Hastings flipped the football over his head to kicker Daniel Carlson, who raced 20-yards for a touchdown.
The Tigers scored again on a 29-yard pass to Hastings after the walk-on got behind the Arkansas State defense with 1:49 left to play in the half after moving 80 yards on nine plays.
After forcing a punt the Tigers got the ball back at their own 34 with 20 seconds left. Kamryn Pettway took a handoff at right guard and raced 64 yards to the ASU two-yard line. After a penalty on the visitors moved the ball to the one and with no timeouts left, Auburn took one shot in the end zone, but White overthrew his pass.
Carlson kicked the field goal from 18 yards out as time ran out at the break with the Tigers on top 38-0.
At intermission Auburn had racked up 452 yards on 47 plays while the Red Wolves finished with 154 yards on 37 plays. Pettway rushed for 103 yards on 10 carries and Jonson gained 101 on 14 carries while White hit 10-14 passes for 173 yards with two scores.
The Tigers took the opening kickoff of the second and scored again, this time on a 37-yard field goal by Carlson to make the score 41-7 after moving 60 yards on nine plays.
With the help of a fourth-down and nine pass of 34 yards to Blake Mack the visitors scored with 5:05 on a five-yard keeper by Voytik. The Red Wolves moved 53 yards on seven plays after the Tigers were stuffed on fourth and one as Chandler Cox couldn’t get back to the line of scrimmage.
Auburn responded with a drive that covered 82 yards on 10 plays. Stevens caught his second TD pass of the night, an eight-yarder from White, who threw a perfect pass to beat tight coverage in the end zone. That put the home team up 48-14 with 27 seconds left in the third quarter.
After missed 41-yard field goal by the Red Wolves, the second offense, with John Franklin at quarterback, moved 51 yards on seven plays to set up a 42-yard field goal with 7:12 left in the game to make the score 51-14.
“We came out and looked like an Auburn offense for the first time," Malzahn said. "When we can run the football, it opens everything else up. We had a lot of different guys carry the football and I think our offensive line got better. If you have an inexperienced offensive group, week one to week two is usually where you see your biggest improvement. Without looking at the film, I can tell that they definitely improved.”
The coach said it was good to be able to play the reserves.
“That’s one thing we talked about in the locker room," he said. "It was great to get young guys quality experience and that will help us in the future with our depth. Overall, that was a big factor and it will definitely help us moving down the road.”
Worth Noting, Part 1: Kerryon Johnson had praise for Sean White on the first touchdown because the quarterback was downfield trying to get a block on the play. Johnson joked he ran for so long on the play that he almost ran out of gas before getting to the end zone as his crossed the field on a 47-yard gainer, his collegiate longest run.
Worth Noting, Part 2: The Tigers did not punt and scored on seven consecutive possessions.
Worth Noting, Part 3: Auburn converted 7-8 third down plays in the first half and 11-15 for the game.
Worth Noting, Part 4: Malzahn said that freshman tight end Landon Rice has left the team for personal reasons. He said it was a coaching decision that linebacker T.J. Neal did not dress for the game. The transfer from Illinois had a social meeting comment following the Clemson game complaining about lack of playing time. Although he removed the comment, it kept him on the bench for game two.
Stat of the Game: Auburn’s 32 first downs were the most since the 2004 Tigers finished with 33 vs. The Citadel.