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Tigers Use Strong Second Half to Defeat Vanderbilt

Kamryn Pettway (36) surpasses the 1,000-yard mark in the win over Vanderbilt (Photo: Matt Gaught)

Despite a sluggish start, Auburn used a second half resurgence to move past Vanderbilt, 23-16 on Saturday. The game began with a surprising announcement. It was announced that a few players would miss the game, due to injury, including quarterback Sean White. The news prompted a change, which turned things over to transfer John Franklin III. Auburn would kick off to start the game, and Vanderbilt methodically fought their way down the field. The defense stood strong, however, as they forced the Commodores to kick a long field goal. Vanderbilt’s Tommy Openshaw nailed his 52-yard attempt, and Vanderbilt was quickly on the board with 12:16 remaining in the quarter, 3-0. Franklin walked on the field for the first time as the starting quarterback, and his first drive was successful. The drive ended when Kerryon Johnson took the direct snap from the wildcat formation and was initially ruled down at the one-yard line. However, following video review, the football crossed the line before Johnson’s knee was ruled down, and the touchdown was granted. At the 8:44 mark, Auburn had taken their first lead of the 7-3. On the drive, Franklin rushed twice for 19 yards. The early kick weighed on the minds of both the offense and the defense throughout the first half. On the ensuing drive, Linebacker Deshaun Davis was ejected for targeting, which was the result of a late hit call. In his absence, Illinois transfer TJ Neal stepped up in a big way, ending the half with 6 total tackles. Another key play in the first quarter was a fumble by Franklin that was recovered by the SEC’s leading tackler, Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham. Auburn ended the first quarter up by three, 7-3. Vanderbilt had a strong second quarter, as quarterback Kyle Shurmur completed a pass to Jared Pinkney from 8-yards out to jump in front of Auburn again with 11:04 remaining in the half, 10-7. The touchdown pass was Shurmur’s first touchdown pass against a SEC defense all season. Groza award finalist, Daniel Carlson, tied the game at the 8:17 mark with a 45-yard field goal. Vanderbilt would grab the lead heading into halftime, as Openshaw sent his second field goal of the day through the uprights with 1:17 remaining in the half, and Vanderbilt would lead 13-10. Auburn ended the first half with 124 total yards, 9 of those were passing yards. Franklin completed his first pass of the game in the second quarter to Ryan Davis for 6 yards. Franklin was the leading rusher, as he gained 59 yards on 7 carries. Vanderbilt owned total yards and time of possession, gaining 206 yards in 20:37. Auburn had a resurgence in the third quarter, as Sean White would re-enter the game. On the first drive, White led the Tigers offense down the field 75 yards on 12 plays, which ended with a 21-yard touchdown pass to freshman receiver Darius Slayton. Auburn would regain the lead with 10:38 in the third quarter. Carlson would nail his second field goal attempt of the game at the 5:57 mark when he succeeded from 53 yards out. Auburn ended the third quarter with a 20-13 lead. The Tigers would see a boost in yardage in the third quarter, as they would add 135 yards to their total. Sean White was responsible for 80 of those yards, as he was able to complete 7 of 8 pass attempts for 75 yards, and had one carry for 5 yards. The team would trade field goals in the fourth quarter and would end the game with Auburn on top, 23-16. Auburn moves to 7-2 on the season, 5-1 in the SEC. Auburn also improves their home record to 9-0 over Vanderbilt and evens the series at 21-21-1. Kamryn Pettway rushed for 173 yards, which pushes him over the 1,000-yard mark on the season. Gus Malzahn has coached 14 running backs who have reached the 1,000 yard total in a season. Auburn will now shift their focus to the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, as they face Georgia next Saturday in Athens.

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