Happy Homecoming: Everybody Plays for Auburn

Auburn celebrated Homecoming with a 63-31 football victory over the Furman Paladins in a game that was decided early.

Auburn, Ala.--With senior quarterback Chris Todd leading the way on Senior Day, Auburn produced 655 yards of offense, the fourth highest total in school history, as the Tigers took command early and coasted to a 63-31 football victory over Furman.

Gene Chizik had mercy on the Paladins, pulling all of the starters at the end of the second quarter and played the entire third and fourth periods with second stringers, third stringers and members of the scout team.

The Tigers led 42-3 at halftime as Todd carved up the Furman defense with precision passing. He hit 17-18 passes 256 yards and four touchdowns with three going to sophomore Darvin Adams, who has nine for the season, which ties him for third most TD receptions in Auburn history for one season.

Todd broke the Auburn single-game record for completion percentage at 94.4 percent for a single game for players with a minimum of both 10 and 15 passes. Jason Campbell held the record of 92.3 percent hitting 12-13 vs. Western Kentucky in 2003 and 17-19 for 89.5 percent vs. Arkansas in 2004.

Todd's four touchdowns give him 17 this season, which ties him for the fourth most touchdown tosses in a single season for an Auburn player. The record of 20 was set by Pat Sullivan in 1971 and matched by Campbell in 2004.

Backup quarterback Neil Caudle took all of the snaps in the second half and hit 10-12 passes for 117 yards. Together the Tiger quarterbacks combined for 373 yards through the air, the ninth most in school history and the most since getting 374 vs. Tennessee in the 2004 SEC Championship Game.

"Obviously some games in warmups you come out throwing the ball pretty good and I felt pretty good in warmups today," Todd said.

About the only negatives for the Homecoming crowd of 81,506 on a beautiful, sun-drenched Saturday were a knee injury suffered by freshman receiver Travante Stallworth and 28 points surrendered by the subs in the second half. However, defensive coordinator Ted Roof said he liked what he saw from the first team defense.

"We only gave up 59 yards in the first half and they were 0-7 on third downs," he pointed out.

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn noted he liked the opportunity to get the backup offensive line extensive work in the second half and he said the group looked solid with the Tigers having scoring drives of 81 yards, 62 and 61 yards in the second half.

Head coach Gene Chizik was upbeat about what he saw as the Tigers improved to 7-3 going into next Saturday's road trip to Georgia. "It was great to go out there and get a win," he said. "We played a lot of young guys today which we did. We played every senior who we have on our squad, which is really important for us to be able to do that. We just played a bunch of guys.

"We played some guys both ways that we kind of threw in there and let them play and have fun," he said. "It was just good to see that. It was great for our team morale and it was great to get everybody out of the game relatively healthy. It was a good team win."

Anthony Gulley scores a touchdown or the Tigers.

One of the Tigers who played both ways, freshman wide receiver Anthony Gulley, saw action at cornerback and tailback in addition to his normal duties. He ran the ball five times for 77 yards and his first two collegiate touchdowns. Another freshman wideout, Anthony Gulley, saw some action at cornerback, too, with Demond Washington moving from cornerback to safety to fill in for injured starter Zac Etheridge, who is out for the season.

To honor Etheridge, who suffered a cracked fifth vertebra last week, the Tigers wore armbands with Etheridge's No. 4 on them.

Gulley said he was more than a little bit surprised to get the call to play tailback in the second half. "I did not play with the offense all week, I played with the defense," he pointed out. "Coach told me after the half that he was going to put me on offense so I ran a little reverse and then he put me in the backfield."

Indicative of the type of game it was, Auburn's leading tackler was Ikeem Means, a walk-on safety who made four solo tackles and two assists. Freshman linebacker Jonathan Evans had five solo tackles, walk-on cornerback Woody Parramore, who was beat for two of Furman's touchdowns, was the third leading tackler with four solos and one assiss.

Freshman defensive end Dee Ford had three solo tackles and one assist and walk-on linebacker Ashton Richardson made two solo stops with two assists.

Offensively, Adams had six catches for 115 yards and was followed by true freshman DeAngelo Benton, who came into the game without a collegiate catch and left it with six for 88 yards. Another freshman receiver, Emory Blake, caught five passes for 32 yards.

Gulley was the leading rusher with 77 yards on five carries. Ben Tate was next with 75 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. Mario Fannin had six carries for 60 yards vs. the Division I-AA team from the Southern Conference that fell to 4-5 this season.

"We obviously could not stop Auburn in the first half," Furman coach Bobby Lamb said. "Their pace of the offense gave us trouble even though we worked on it in practice. They were hitting on all cylinders and they were very difficult to defend.

"Chris Todd was making so many great decisions getting the ball spread around and going 17-18 with only one incomplete pass."

Auburn won the opening toss and decided to take the football. It took the Tigers just six plays to move 51 yards for a touchdown after a good kickoff return by Mario Fannin.

The big play on the drive was a 26-yard pass to Tommy Trott that moved the Tigers to the six-yard line. On the next play Adams beat man coverage on a quick out pattern in the end zone to put the Tigers up 7-0 less than two minutes into the action.

Furman responded on its next possession by moving 51 yards, too. The Paladins were aided by three penalties before settling for a 23-yard field goal with 7:00 left in the first quarter.

Auburn trumped that on possession two, moving 80 yards on eight plays to stretch the lead to 14-3. Ben Tate scored the touchdown from nine yards out running up the middle through a huge hole and the senior was untouched on his way to the end zone.

After a three-and-out for the Furman offense which found the going tough against the home team the rest of the first half, the Tigers took over at their 27-yard line and scored just five plays later. Fannin got the touchdown on a 24-yard pass from Todd, who had his best half of football as a Tiger.

The second quarter was more of the same as the Tigers scored on their next two possessions to jump ahead 35-3 before having to punt for the only time of the first half.

The fourth score came on a drive that covered 55 yards in four plays. The final 23 came on a strike from Todd to Adams who caught the ball over the middle, bounced off a Furman defender inside the five-yard line and kept his balance on the way into the end zone.

Adams scored touchdown number five on another Todd to Adams play. The Tigers lined up three wide receivers to the right side of the formation, but Todd threw to the left sideline on a quick screen to the wide receiver who got a block from Lee Ziemba and raced 41 yards for a score.

Auburn scored again one more time before intermission by moving 56 yards on four plays. Tate got the touchdown from six yards out with 41 seconds left in the half.

The Tigers got the only turnover of the half when Nick Fairley deflected a pass that was picked off by defensive end Dee Ford, but Auburn took a knee and ran out the clock instead of trying to aid to Furman's misery.

At the break the Tigers had 414 yards and 19 first downs to Furman's 59 yards and five first downs.

Auburn's kicking game issues set up Furman's first touchdown. Pierre-Louis tried to make a difficult catch on a punt inside the Auburn 10, fumbled the ball and Furman took over at the six. Jerry Williams scored on the next play on a run from six yards out.

The Tigers gave the ball back to the Paladins at the Auburn 37 on a fumble by Eric Smith. Four players later the score was 42-17 when Tersso Uhaa scored on a 19-yard run as he faked and got past T'Sharvan Bell.

Chizik said he never considered putting the first team back in and his patience was rewarded with a victory and a chance to rest his key players going into an 11th straight game without an off-week.

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof said it was "big, big, big" to get his first string linebackers so much needed rest prior to playing Georgia.

Auburn made the lead 49-17 when Smith scored from two yards out to cap an 81-yard drive that took nine plays.

The Tigers increased the lead to 56-17 at the 9:50 mark of the fourth quarter when Gulley scored on a 13-yard reverse to cap an eight-play drive that covered 62 yards.

Furman moved 69 yards on six plays to cut the lead to 56-24, but Gulley scored again, this time on a 50-yard run at tailback, on a perfectly blocked play. The freshman was not touched on his way to the end zone.

Furman hit a 17-yard pass from Chris Forcier to R.J. Webb with 21 seconds left to make the final score 63-31 with 21 seconds remaining.

For the Tigers, it was a school-record 18th consecutive Homecoming victory surpassing the previous record from 1953-69.

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