Auburn Explodes in Third Quarter of Rout

Sep 11, 2021; Auburn, AL, USA; Dematrius Davis (18) celebrates between Auburn and Alabama State at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics
Sep 11, 2021; Auburn, AL, USA; Dematrius Davis (18) celebrates between Auburn and Alabama State at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

Chalk it up to an 11 a.m. kickoff. Or perhaps the Tigers had one eye on next week’s trip to Pennsylvania to take on Penn State and overlooked this week’s FCS opponent. But whatever the reason was, Alabama State (1-1) was threatening to score deep in Auburn territory with just under seven minutes to go before halftime, and Auburn (2-0) clinging to a 13-0 lead. Roger McCreary came up with a great open field tackle on third and goal at the three-yard line to force fourth down. 

Faced with fourth and goal the Hornets opted to attempt a twenty-yard field goal. Auburn defensive lineman Colby Wooden got his hand on the kick and Nehemiah Pritchett scooped up the blocked kick and sprinted 80 yards to the house to give Auburn a 20-0 lead before halftime. That play was the first trickle before the floodgates opened in a 62-0 rout of the visiting Hornets.

After an inconsistent first half by the Auburn offense, the Tigers exploded out of the gates in the third quarter. The Tigers scored five touchdowns in the third quarter, including a 35-yard pick six from McCreary. The 35-point outburst in the third quarter tied an Auburn record for the most points scored in one quarter. Auburn only ran eight offensive plays in the third quarter to score four offensive touchdowns. The final touchdown of the quarter was scored by freshman Auburn running back Jarquez Hunter on a 94-yard sprint right up the center. The rush was the longest rushing play in Auburn history breaking Ralph O’Gwynne’s previous record of 92 in 1936. From there, Auburn coasted to the finish line with backups finishing out the fourth quarter for both squads.

As previously mentioned, the Tigers struggled through an up and down first half on the offensive side of the ball. Auburn twice was forced to settle for field goals in the first quarter after driving into the red zone. Auburn also had their only punt in the second quarter and turned the ball over once before halftime on a Bo Nix fumble. Part of the inconsistency could be blamed on a multitude of penalties against the Tigers’ offense in the first half. In total, Auburn was flagged ten times in the game. Auburn also had a few costly drops before the intermission.

Auburn compiled 538 yards of total offense including 364 yards on the ground. For the second straight week, both Tank Bigsby (11 carries, 122 yards) and Hunter (8 carries, 147 yards, 1 TD) eclipsed the century mark on the ground. Starting quarterback Bo Nix finished the game completing 9 of his 17 passes for 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Demetris Robertson caught both of Nix’s touchdowns and finished with 120 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns (two through the air and one on the ground). T.J. Finley, who entered the game partway through the third quarter, threw his first touchdown in the orange and blue on a beautiful 49-yard throw to Malcolm Johnson, Jr. The scoring play was also Johnson’s first career score as an Auburn Tiger.

The defense was really only threatened the one time in the second quarter when Wooden blocked the field goal attempt. The Tigers held Alabama State to 176 yards of total offense and eleven first downs. Auburn also only allowed the Hornets to convert 4 of 15 third down attempts, which has been a point of emphasis for the Tigers this season after struggling in that compartment last year. Auburn had two takeaways—McCreary’s interception and a fumble recovery by Colby Wooden. Auburn lived in the Hornets backfield all afternoon, recording eleven tackles for loss, including two sacks. Zakoby McClain led the team with ten total tackles. Eku Leota and T.D. Moultry each recorded a sack.

While there were plenty of positives to take away from a 62-0 rout, Coach Bryan Harsin pointed out several areas for Auburn to improve on before next week. Coach Harsin pointed out penalties, fumbles (Auburn fumbled three times on the afternoon even though Alabama State only recovered one), and drops as areas he wanted to see his team improve on this week.  

Auburn scored 60 or more points in back-to-back games for the first time since 1932. The Tigers also set a program record for the most total yards through the first two games of a season with 1151 yards. Auburn scored a touchdown in all three phases of the game for the first time since the 2018 Liberty game.

Auburn now turns their attention to a top twenty-five matchup with Penn State. Auburn travels to Pennsylvania next week for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff. The game will be televised on ABC.

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