Kamryn Pettway (above) overpowered the Arkansas defense.
Auburn, Ala.--Arkansas players stomped on the AU logo in warmups and the Auburn Tigers did the same thing to the Razorbacks once the SEC football game started as the Tigers bludgeoned the visitors 56-3 on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“We came out and made a statement,” said senior offensive tackle Robert Leff, who helped the Tigers rush for an SEC regular season record of 543 yards. “That is what we came out to do,” he said.
“I think we had a great push up front and we got a great performance from our running backs,” said Leff, who noted that the Tigers got extra motivation from Arkansas breaking into AU’s pre-game prayer circle at midfield to stomp on the Auburn logo and talk trash.
“It definitely contributed a lot to our attitude to start the game,” the senior said, a comment made by other AU players after the game.
The statement included a 53-point margin of victory, the largest in AU history vs. a ranked opponent. It was second only to a 56-0 victory over Mississippi State for the largest margin of victory by the Tigers in an SEC game.
Auburn’s rushing total broke the previous SEC regular season record set by Arkansas in 2007 when the Razorbacks ran for 542 yards vs. South Carolina.
Auburn finished two yards shy of the 545 yards the Tigers rushed for vs. Missouri in the 2013 SEC Championship Game.
Leading the charge on the ground was sophomore Kamryn Pettway, who rushed for 192 yards and two TDs on 27 carries.
Freshman Eli Stove added 94 yards on three carries, freshman Kam Martin gained 80 yards on seven runs and converted wide receiver Stanton Truitt, who scored three TDs, rushed eight times for 78 yards and caught a 45-yard TD pass.
The home team racked up 632 yards of total offense while holding the Razorbacks to 215, including 31 yards on the ground, an average of 0.8 yards per carry.
“We played a complete game,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “We talked about improving each game.
“First of all, our defense holding that group to 25 yards rushing was really unbelievable,” he said. “That was one of our goals--to try to make them one dimensional and really get after the quarterback.”
The coach added, “Our defense, I can’t say enough about them. They are improving each week.”
Auburn's defense rocked the Razorbacks early and often.
Offensively, Malzahn said the game plan was to run the football, which the Tigers did by averaging better than nine yards per carry.
“The good thing is we are improving,” Malzahn said. “That is really the name of the game.”
Auburn improved its record to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the SEC with the victory while the Razorbacks dropped to 5-3 overall and 1-3 in the league.
The Tigers scored 21 points in the first quarter, seven in the second and 14 apiece in the third and fourth quarters, even though they slowed the tempo and played the reserves in the second half.
The scoring parade began on end-around run on AU’s opening play was perfectly blocked as freshman receiver Eli Stove raced untouched behind blocks from Chandler Cox and Tony Stevens on the way to a 78-yard run.
The Tigers scored on their second possession, moving 91 yards on 10 plays. Pettway powered up the middle from nine yards out for the score, running over defensive back Josh Liddell, who tried to keep him out of the end zone.
Truitt scored his first collegiate touchdown on the third AU possession. Following a fumble recovery at the Arkansas 27 by freshman Marlon Davidson, the Tigers scored two plays later when the former receiver took a pitch at right end and raced 20 yards for a score.
The Tigers weren’t as sharp offensively in the second quarter, but managed to stretch the lead to 28-0 with 1:28 in the half on a 45-yard wheel route pass play from Sean White to Truitt.
The Razorbacks managed to get on the scoreboard with a 54-yard field goal by Adam McFain on the final play of the half.
At the break the Tigers held a 328 to 155 advantage in total offense even though the home team held the ball for just 9:27 to 20:33 for the Razorbacks.
Auburn drove 86 yards on 15 plays to make the score 35-3. White scored on a keeper at right end on a fourth and goal play at the one.
Pettway made one of his best runs of the night when he bounced outside from right guard to right end to score from 23 yards out to cap a drive that covered 69 yards on seven plays.
Truitt scored his third touchdown of the night on a 31-yard with 12:25 to play in the fourth quarter and freshman Kam Martin closed the scoring with a 51-yard run with 4:27 left.
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema was asked about Auburn’s big rushing performance. “As far as what’s going on, we need to get it fixed or move our technique or scheme,” he said.
Commenting on Auburn, he said, “Obviously, they came ready to play and executed their play. They played very, very well.”
Worth Noting, Part 1: The Tigers continued to perform well on third downs. The Razorbacks converted just 3-15 while AU hit on 7-12.
Worth Noting, Part 2: The Tigers were able to hold out running back Kerryon Johnson, who is continuing to recover from an ankle sprain. He warmed up for the game.
Worth Noting, Part 3: Stephen Roberts started at safety ahead of Nick Ruffin, who was held out of action with a leg injury even though he was dressed out.
Stat of the Game, Part 1: Auburn had zero plays for lost yardage while the Razorbacks had 11, including four quarterback sacks.
Stat of the Game, Part 2: Carl Lawson had seven of Auburn’s 15 QB hurries.
The Tigers return to action next Saturday with a 6:15 p.m. kickoff at Ole Miss.