Quan Bray played the game of his life, Montravius Adams made a few big plays on defense, and the Auburn Tigers escaped Saturday afternoon with a 45-17 victory over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.
Auburn's offensive struggles from last Thursday night seemed to carry over, as the inside running game never seemed to get going for the Tigers, and the Auburn offense as a whole struggled early against the Bulldogs. The defense stepped up big in the first half to carry the load, including Montravius Adams pulling down a tipped pass and returning it to the five yard line to set up Auburn's first touchdown.
The score was 10-0 until a scoring-heavy final two minutes to the first half. It started with an amazing one-handed snag by D'haquille Williams on a tipped Marshall pass with 1:36 to play in the half. Montravius Adams came up with his second turnover of the day when he fell on a Louisiana Tech fumbled that led to a 37 yard touchdown pass to Quan Bray for the first of his three touchdowns on the day.
Not to be outdone, Louisiana Tech took the kickoff with 34 seconds remaining and - with the help of a 15 yard penalty on the return - marched the ball down into field goal position to send the game to the half at 24-3 in favor of the Tigers.
Auburn's offense struggled in the 3rd quarter, going three and out on its first two possessions. Louisiana Tech put a touchdown on the board on their second possession of the quarter after failing to capitalize on a trip into Auburn's redzone on their first drive of the half.
The points again came in a flurry at the beginning of the 4th quarter. Auburn appeared to be spluttering again on offense until Nick Marshall escaped two Bulldog defenders, scrambled to his right, and hit Quan Bray through double-coverage for a 44 yard touchdown pass to make the score 31-10.
Quan Bray wasn't finished, yet. After Auburn's defense forced a three-and-out, Bray returned the ensuing punt 76 yards for his second punt return touchdown of the season. He finished the day with three catches for 91 yards, and three touchdowns (two receiving, one return).
Louisiana Tech answered with a touchdown drive kept alive by a long fourth-and-one conversion on a wheel route to bring the score to 38-17.
Auburn would finish out the scoring when Jeremy Johnson threw a touchdown pass to C.J. Uzomah while being dragged down by defenders. That drive featured Cameron Artis-Payne's best run of the day, a 37 yard jaunt to the outside.
The 45-17 final score is not indicative of the way the game went. Louisiana Tech's defense gave Auburn fits and never really Auburn to get the running game established. Auburn also suffered a rash of injuries in the first half. Linebackers Kris Frost and Cassanova McKinzy both left the game with injuries and did not return, as did offensive lineman Pat Miller. Montravius Adams and D'haquille Williams also left the game in the first half with injuries, but returned to play at other points.
This was the last breath of air for Auburn before entering a brutal SEC schedule. All of Auburn's remaining opponents - except FCS Samford - are currently ranked in the Top 25. They begin the heart of SEC play with the Bayou Bengals at home next Saturday night.