Tigers Learn from their Past Mistakes, Knock off Arkansas State for first win of 2016.
Head Coach Gus Malzahn (Photo: Auburn Athletics/Dakota Sumpter)
Auburn began to show signs of improvement early, as the Tigers racked up 202 yards of total offense in the first quarter.
Kerryon Johnson was the star of the first quarter, scoring twice and rushing for 74 yards. One of his touchdowns was a mere inch away from not happening. With 6:58 remaining in the quarter, quarterback Sean White was about to succumb to the Red Wolf defense, until he lateralled the football to Johnson. Johnson then scampered 47 yards to opposite field, even hurdled a defender, to the end zone for Auburn’s first touchdown of the night.
The Red Wolves would answer on the ensuing drive, with quarterback Chad Voytik sneaking in the endzone from one yard out. The score was set up by an impressive 68-yard pass to receiver Christian Booker.
Johnson’s second and final score of the quarter came off of a direct snap. Johnson rushed from 1-yard out to extend the lead to 14-7 with 1:49 to go. During the
touchdown drive, freshman receiver Kyle Davis formally introduced himself to the Auburn Family, by reeling in a one-handed grab from Sean White.
Quarterback Sean White entered the game with Arkansas State with only one career touchdown pass. After the second quarter of Saturday night’s game, that can no longer be said. White connected with receiver Tony Stevens from 24-yards out just 50 seconds into the quarter. White would later find kicker-turned-receiver Will Hastings in stride from 29 yards out.
Hastings was not the only kicker to score a touchdown in the second quarter.
The wind was taken out of the Tiger fans sails following a touchdown pass that was called back after an illegal motion penalty. Kicker Daniel Carlson lined up to attempt a 37-yard field goal. Key word, attempted. Holder Tyler Stovall caught the snap, then passed it blindly behind him to Carlson, and he would rush 20 yards for a touchdown.
Auburn would end the first half up on Arkansas State, 38-7. Four different receivers would catch a pass for Auburn, with Tony Stevens leading the way with 3 receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown. Sean White threw two touchdown passes, which is
double the amount of touchdown passes that he threw in all of 2015. White ended the half with 173 passing yards on 10 completions. As an offense, Auburn racked up 452 total yards. Auburn only gained 262 yards offensively last week against Clemson. Running back Kamryn Pettway, who did not get a carry last week, rushed 10 times for 103 yards in the first half.
Auburn began the third quarter with a promising 60-yard drive, that ended with Daniel Carlson’s second field goal of the game, this time from 37 yards out to extend the lead to 41-7 with 11:26 to go in the quarter.
The next Auburn drive would see a few “firsts.” Freshman Nate Craig-Myers, and former Baylor commit Kam Martin picked up their first catches of their career. The Red Wolves would ultimately stop the Tigers on fourth down, as a carry from Chandler Cox failed to convert the fourth and one.
Arkansas State converted a 4th and long on the next drive, and would find themselves back on the board with 5:05 to go in the quarter. Quarterback Chad Voytik called his own number for the second time, this time from 5 yards out, closing the lead to 41-14 Auburn.
It was a touchdown pass that would seal the deal in third quarter scoring. White would find a tight spot in the far corner of the end zone, where Tony Stevens was awaiting. The 8-yard touchdown pass would be the second time that White and Stevens connected in the game. The pass extended the lead to 48-14, in favor of the Tigers.
As Auburn entered the fourth quarter, it was obvious that the coaching staff, and team alike, had studied their tendencies from a week before, and had made the necessary improvements. The Tigers had 603 total yards of offense, while only allowing 225. Auburn offense had only 262 yards of total offense last week, while allowing 399.
Carlson would earn his third field goal of the night with 7:13 remaining in the game from 42 yards out to move Auburn into the 50's, 51-14. Players such as John Franklin III, Malik Miller, and Kam Martin received their first real taste of playing time during this drive.
Auburn moves to 1-1 on the young season, following the defeat of Arkansas State, 51-14. Auburn's offense performed a huge turn around in the win, posting 706 total yards, which is the highest since 2013 against Western Carolina, when the Tigers posted 700 yards. Sean White threw three touchdown passes, which is triple the amount of touchdown tosses he had in all of 2015. Of those 706 yards, 462 of those were on the ground. Kamryn Pettway led the attack with 152 yards, while Kerryon Johnson ended with 124 yards, and two touchdowns. The leading receiver was Tony Stevens. Stevens reeled in two White touchdown passes, while recording 75 yards. Pettway and Stevens did not record a stat in last week's loss to Clemson. Defensively, Rudy Ford led the way with 10 tackles. Behind him, were Tre Williams (8 TT, sack), and Darrell Williams (6 TT).
Auburn will now prepare for SEC play, as Texas A&M comes to town next Saturday for a 6:00PM kickoff at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Photos: Kerryon Johnson, Daniel Carlson (Photo: Auburn Athletics/Dakota Sumpter)