Sophomore tailback Kerryon Johnson led the Tigers in rushing on Saturday.
Auburn, Ala.--Auburn struck early and often as the Tigers cruised to a no-stress 58-7 football victory over Louisiana-Monroe to the delight of a sun-drenched Homecoming crowd at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.
Sean White was 14-17 passing for 239 yards and two scores. His backup, John Franklin, threw one pass for a 39-yard score and ran the ball twice for 82 yards, including an electric 80-yard touchdown.
Kerry Johnson rushed for 146 yards and two scores as part of an AU ground attack that finished the day with 410 yards and five scores at 6.2 yards per pop.
In two games vs. opponents from the Sun Belt conference this season the Tigers outscored ULM and Arkansas State 109-21.
The Tigers improved their record to 3-2, moving past the .500 mark for the first time since November 21 last year when they defeated Idaho to improve to 6-5. The Warhawks fell to 1-3 for the season and 0-10 all-time in games vs. Auburn.
“Our goal this week was to improve from last week on offense, defense and special teams and I think we did that,” Coach Gus Malzahn said.
“Our defense played outstanding,” Malzahn said. “I thought our offense played extremely well and it was very balanced. Our special teams played well, too. We had a big punt return, which we have been trying to improve on. Overall, we played well.”
Tre Williams led the defense with nine tackles on a day when 22 different Tigers made at least one tackle and another, Javaris Davis, got his first college interception.
Junior safety Tray Matthews said, “We just have to build on this and keep playing a complete game, offensively and defensively. We need to continue to go hard and not get complacent.”
Worth Noting, Part 1: The Auburn offense converted 9-11 third down plays.
Worth Noting, Part 2: The Tigers finished with 36 first downs with 23 on running plays, 11 on passes and two via penalty. The Warhawks finished with 16 first downs.
Stat of the Game: Auburn did not have to punt.
Kerryon Johnson said it was nice to have a collegiate career high rushing game, but added, “We have just got to carry it into the weeks on out. The big games, the games that really matter, SEC games, those get us where we want to go. Those get us to our goal. Those are the games that really matter.”
Auburn scored twice in the opening quarter, driving 70 yards on 11 plays on its first possession. White, rolling out right trying to find an open receiver, kept the ball and scored on a third and goal play at the three.
Auburn made it 14-0 at the 2:31 mark of the period on a quick-strike drive, moving 83 yards on four plays. Freshman wide receiver Kyle Davis was uncovered behind the ULM?secondary and caught a 48-yard pass from White.
Auburn led 28-7 at halftime with two more touchdown drives in the second quarter. Johnson, who rushed for 127 yards on 21 carries in the half, scored both TDs in the period on short runs up the middle.
The first drive covered 72 yards on 10 plays and the second went 66 yards on seven plays.
ULM responded to Auburn’s fourth touchdown with a 75-yard drive on 13 plays, using the entire clock. With two seconds left from the two after a highly questionable pass interference call on Josh Holsey, Marcus Green caught a two-yard pass from Garrett Smith to cut the margin to 28-7.
The Tigers outscored the Warhawks 28-0 in the third quarter.
Auburn got the ball to start the second half and scored on an 88-yard drive that covered seven plays. Tony Stevens made the catch on a 48-yard pass play that featured four wide receivers on the left side of the formation. Stevens, a senior, was open and caught the pass in stride.
Tony Stevens heads to the end zone on his touchdown catch. He caught four passes for 109 yards.
Auburn made it 42-7 with a drive that covered 76 yards on eight plays. Freshman back Malik Miller scored on a four-yard run as he ran over a defender, but was later injured and did not return to the game. Malzahn said he does not know yet how serious the injury is.
Franklin got the call at quarterback the next series and on the second play raced 80 yards on a keeper at right end to make the score 49-7 with 5:09 left in the quarter.
Auburn’s final touchdown came with 1:08 left in the third quarter on a perfectly thrown pass from Franklin to freshman wideout Nate Craig to cap a drive that covered 75 yards in eight plays.
The only points in the third quarter came with 31 seconds left when walk-on defensive lineman Gary Walker Jr., the son of a former AU standout, tackled the ULM quarterback in the end zone. The Warhawks were backed up on their goal line after stopping Auburn walk-on running back Damian Lewis just shy of the goal line on a fourth down play, Auburn’s only non-scoring red zone trip of the game in five trips.
ULM finished the game with just 251 total yards. The Warhawks hit 19-33 passes for 139 yards and one interception. ULM ran the ball 32 times for 126 yards.
The Tigers return to action next Saturday with their first road game of the season. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CDT as Auburn plays Mississippi State, which is off this week.