It took a little while, but Auburn eventually overcame a heavy breakfast, and a week of feeling good, and the yawning that precedes a morning kickoff to annihilate Alabama State by a final score of 62-0 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Everyone took some time to get going, but thankfully the defense got plenty of sleep last night and had little trouble holding the Hornets scoreless early. Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter each went for 100+ yards on the ground again, and Demetris Robertson broke out with three total touchdowns while defense and special teams each got in on the scoring in the win.
If you remember the hilariously sleep 11 AM kickoffs from the Tuberville days, when we were assured to get our doors blasted by Arkansas or someone, this might have given you flashbacks if Auburn wasn’t playing Alabama State.
The first quarter was a clinic in almosts. Not from the defense, which stood tall and bullied the Hornets from start to finish, but from the offense. Bo Nix missed his first two passes, nearly getting the second one picked off before hitting Demetris Robertson fo a 26-yard conversion on the game’s first third down. Penalties were hurting the Tigers in addition to a slow start, as a 23-yard run by Tank Bigsby and a long run by Jarquez Hunter were both called back by holding infractions. Auburn settled for a 34-yard Anders Carlson field goal on its first drive to take a 3-0 lead.
Auburn’s special teams took center stage when they blocked Alabama State’s second punt of the day, giving the offense possession at the 25-yard line. Bo Nix found Caylin Newton for what would’ve been the latter’s first career score before he bobbled and dropped the pass. The Tigers committed another holding penalty and had to rely on a 24-yard run from Bigsby on 3rd and 18 to convert. After reaching 4th and goal at the ASU 1-yard line, the student section failed to quiet down and Auburn was called for delay of game. Carlson’s second field goal made it a 6-0 game late in the first quarter.
After another ASU punt, Auburn got the ball with fairly good field position and turned in the most rhythmic drive of the day. Nix hit 4-6 passes on the drive, including a 6-yard touchdown to Demetris Robertson for his first touchdown as an Auburn Tiger. Jarquez Hunter also turned in a feature back performance on the possession with five carries for 26 yards and a 14-yard catch. After the extra point, Auburn led 13-0 with 11:31 to go in the opening half.
HOLD ON, though. Alabama State didn’t just lie down and die. The Hornets converted a couple of third downs and got their largest play of the day with a 22-yard completion from Ryan Nettles to Jeremiah Hixon, which moved even closer to the end zone after a facemask call on Smoke Monday cut the distance to go in half. After the Auburn defense forced a field goal try, but Colby Wooden blocked it and Nehemiah Pritchett returned it 80 yards for the backbreaker touchdown. 20-0 Tigers with 6:14 to play in the half.
Both sides traded punts on three-and-outs, and after another ASU three-and-out Demtris Robertson returned the Hornet punt 23 yards to the Alabama State 32 for Auburn to start with 2:26 to go in the half. However, Bo Nix fumbled on third down and the Hornets recovered, but a T.D. Moultry sack allowed the clock to expire with the halftime margin still 20-0 in favor of the Tigers.
FIRST HALF NUMBERS
Auburn was slated to get the ball to start the second half, but Alabama State executed a perfect pooch kickoff, and recovered it to steal a possession. The Tiger defense wasn’t going to budge, though, and forced another three-and-out. After the punt, Auburn began at its own 10-yard line. Tank Bigsby ripped off a 51-yard weaving run that nearly went the distance, but Bo Nix finished the drive with his second touchdown to Demetris Robertson, this one coming from 28 yards out. Bigsby’s run put him over 100 yards for the second straight game to open 2021, and the touchdown gave the Tigers a 27-0 lead.
Alabama State meandered just into Auburn territory on the next drive, but fumbled the snap only to have Colby Wooden recover it. After a pass interference on a deep shot, Demetris Robertson took an end around 36 yards for his third touchdown of the day to build Auburn’s lead to 34-0 with 9:07 left in the third quarter.
After that touchdown, Auburn’s athletes at every position on the field turned things on. Facing a 2nd and 10 from the ASU 35, Ryan Nettles tried to complete a screen pass, but Roger McCreary stepped in front of it and took the interception the other way to extend the Tiger lead to 41-0.
Things didn’t slow down in the third quarter as the starters came out and the second team got work. The second team defense forced another Alabama State punt, and after a Jarquez Hunter run got the Tigers to midfield, T.J. Finley took to the air. He lobbed a perfect 49-yard pass to Malcolm Johnson, Jr., who dragged a Hornet defensive back into the end zone his first career touchdown. With 2:59 left in the quarter, Auburn led 48-0.
On Auburn’s next possession (after a fantastic Hornet punt), it took the Tigers just one play to cover the 94 yards. Jarquez Hunter took a counter handoff and blasted untouched through line to go the distance and push the margin to 55-0 in favor of Auburn. It was tied for the longest play from scrimmage in Auburn history with Emory Blake’s 94-yard catch in 2010 against Louisiana Monroe, and the longest run in Auburn history.
Auburn scored 35 points in the third quarter to completely blow the game open. In that period, the Tigers ran the ball six times for an average of 37 yards per carry, and amassed 299 total yards on just EIGHT plays.
In the fourth quarter, Sean Jackson and Jordon Ingram started to get carries at the tailback spot, and the Tigers began to run clock. A steady dose of the run game pushed the Tigers to a goal-to-go situation, and Jackson scored his first career touchdown on a speed option pitch from Finley on fourth and goal. At 62-0, the Tigers were able to hold Alabama State scoreless on their final drive and let the clock run out for the win to improve to 2-0.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Demetris Robertson — 3 catches, 61 yards, 2 TDs, 1 rush, 36 yards, 1 TD — Well, hello, you. The transfer from Georgia and former five-star recruit showed exactly why he was so sought after and why Auburn wanted him so badly when he decided to leave Athens. After catching three passes for 28 yards last week, he turned into the feature target for Bo Nix today. He got the offense started with a big third down conversion on the Tigers’ first drive, and Nix looked for him first when he went to the end zone. Adding in his touchdown run on the end around showed off the versatility and previewed a little bit about how Auburn could use him in different ways once we get into the meat of the schedule.
Zakoby McClain — 10 tackles, 1 TFL — This dude was everywhere. Like we learned to expect last season, he was going to rack up the tackles like crazy, and he hit double digits a couple minutes into the third quarter. Imagine what he can do against a run-heavy team next weekend in a full 60 minutes of action.
Auburn travels for the first time this season to take on Penn State in Happy Valley next Saturday night. Kickoff will come at 6:30 pm CST/7:30 pm EST on ABC.