Auburn Uses Balanced Attack to Defeat Mississippi State
Auburn Running Back Kamryn Pettway (Photo: Auburn Athletics)
Auburn football hit the road for the first time on Saturday, when they visited the Magnolia State, and the Mississippi State Bulldogs. By using a balanced approach, and Kamryn Pettway’s athleticism, the “storm troopers” picked up another key SEC win, 38-14. Pettway returned to the Auburn backfield rotation on Saturday, after sitting out last week’s game against ULM to nurse an injury. He filled in for starting running back Kerryon Johnson, who left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury. By filling in, Pettway went on to have the best game of his young career. His final numbers read like this: 39 carries, 169 yards, and three touchdowns. His 39 carries are the 4th most carries in a game by an Auburn Tiger. Saturday was also the third time that he has rushed for over 100 yards this season. In a more specific stat, Pettway’s 27 first half carries are the most carries that any player in college football has had in one-half, in over ten years. Finally, he rushed for three touchdowns, which is the first time that an Auburn back has rushed for that many scores since Peyton Barber rushed for three last season, against Arkansas. After a couple of blows by both teams, Auburn was the first team to catch momentum in the game. After Mississippi State’s kicker, Wesley Graves, missed his 28-yard field, Auburn controlled every aspect of the game in the first half. For the sixth time this season, quarterback Sean White tossed a pass to the end zone. But, it was the first time that he connected with receiver, Ryan Davis. With Carlson’s successful extra point, Auburn held on to an early 7-0 lead with 9:28 to go in the quarter. Kamryn Pettway had a monster game, and it all began with 3:44 to go in the first quarter. After Kerryon Johnson went to the locker room to get an ankle examined, Pettway stepped up and scored his first touchdown of the season. Pettway only needed one-yard to pick up his first score, and Auburn extended their lead to 14. Pettway did his part in the first quarter, by picking up 55 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries in the first quarter. But, that was only the beginning for the redshirt freshman from Prattville. In the second quarter, he would add two more touchdowns to his total. Once, with 3-yards out with 12:15 to go, and once more with 1:54 to go. One play prior to his third touchdown, video review showed that Pettway stepped out of bounds prior to entering the end zone. Auburn added a defensive touchdown in the second quarter, thanks to Auburn’s one-two punch on the defensive line. Defensive End Carl Lawson was in the process of sacking Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald with 1:50 to go until halftime when the hit forced Fitzgerald to fumble. That was when tackle Montravius Adams scooped the ball and ran it 13-yards for a touchdown. Another successful Daniel Carlson kick extended the lead to 35-0 at halftime over the Bulldogs. Auburn produced a balanced attack in the first half, by passing for 185 yards, while rushing for 150. Defensively, the tough Auburn defense allowed Mississippi State to rush for 30 yards, while only allowing Fitzgerald to throw for 61 yards. White completed 13 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He threw an interception on the first drive of the game, which was only his second of the season. Pettway racked up 125 yards rushing on 27 carries and ended the half with 3 touchdown carries. The leading receiver was Tony Stevens with 64 yards. Ryan Davis reeled in White’s only touchdown pass of the game. Freshman Marlon Davidson led in tackles with 4 total. Auburn scored 35 points for the first time this season, and the first time since last season, against San Jose State. Auburn racked up 335 total yards in the first half, which was the first time that they have put up a number that high, since the 2014 Iron Bowl, when the offense posted 383 against the Crimson Tide. The second half belonged to the Bulldogs, however, the damage had already been done. Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald tossed two touchdown passes in the second half, one to Keith Mixon with 5:48 to go in the third. Fitzgerald also connected with his favorite target, Fred Ross, from 8 yards out to cut the Tiger lead to 35-14, with 10:14 remaining in the game. Auburn quarterback John Franklin III entered the game in the fourth quarter and led a lengthy drive that burned 67 yards, and 8:35 off the clock. The drive ended with Daniel Carlson’s 13th successful field goal attempt, to give Auburn their first score of the half, and would be the final score of the game. Auburn improved in many ways, including red zone offense. Auburn has had issues with scoring once the offense entered the 20-yard lines but finished the day 5-5. Auburn also used a balanced attack offensively. Auburn gained 432 yards of total offense, 228 rushing, and 204 passing. Tony Stevens continued to excel, by leading the receivers with 64 yards on three catches. Linebacker Tre Williams led the defense with 8 total tackles. The win was Head Coach Gus Malzahn’s 40th as Auburn’s Head Coach. Auburn has also won 9 of its last 13 SEC road openers.