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Auburn Beats ULM, Improves to 9-2

Tigers beat Warhawks with a second-half surge.

NCAA Football: UL Monroe at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Well, we got by Louisiana-Monroe. It came at a bit of a price, and wasn’t nearly as easy as we thought it would be.

Auburn beat the Warhawks today 42-14, but the lead was just 14-7 at halftime and a growing list of players checked in and out of the game with minor nicks and bruises. The Tigers put up the numbers, and it won’t matter when the rankings come out tomorrow, but Auburn was clearly focused on the task next week, and still sporting an emotional hangover from the win over Georgia last Saturday.

The Tigers scored on their opening drive, a 9-play, 80-yard foray that seemed effortless and easy, and ended with an 8-yard Kerryon Johnson touchdown run. Louisiana-Monroe answered with a lengthy drive of their own, scoring on a 4th and goal reverse from the 1-yard line. Neither team could score again until the final two minutes of the half when the Tigers began a drive inside their own five, and went four plays in less than 40 seconds. Jarrett Stidham hit Darius Slayton for a 50-yard touchdown pass to give Auburn a 14-7 lead heading into the locker room.

Out of the second half, Auburn scored again thanks to the insertion of Kam Martin into the offense, and he ripped off a couple quick runs including a short touchdown to give the Tigers a 21-7 lead. Shortly after that, Stidham hit Martin on a 42-yard touchdown pass that pretty much ended the Warhawk threat and extended the lead to 28-7 just before the third quarter ended.

In the fourth quarter, the turnovers started coming as ULM’s backup quarterback entered the game, as Nick Ruffin returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown to give Auburn a 35-7 lead, and then Malik Miller capped things off with a touchdown late in the game. ULM scored once more on a long touchdown pass late in the 4th when things were out of hand.

Overall, Auburn rolled up 552 yards of offense, including 317 on the ground on 48 attempts (6.6 ypc). Jarrett Stidham went 18-24 for 235 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. Kerryon Johnson ran for 137 yards and a score on 22 carries, with Kam Martin adding 83 yards and a score on 12 carries. Auburn’s leading receiver on the day was Darius Slayton, who caught four balls for 89 yards and a touchdown. Ryan Davis added another six receptions, bringing his season total to 52 catches. The single-season record for Auburn is 60, set by Darvin Adams in 2009. With at least two games left, it’s a high possibility that Davis breaks that mark.

Auburn will play Alabama next week at 2:30 pm CST/3:30 pm EST from Jordan-Hare Stadium, with the SEC West on the line. The Tigers’ record improved to 9-2 on the year, winning nine games under Gus Malzahn for the second time since he became head coach on the Plains.