Auburn moves to 7-1 with win over Florida Atlantic

Auburn moves to 7-1 with win over Florida Atlantic

Auburn upped their record to 7-1 with a win on Saturday.
There was a question, Gus Malzahn was saying, about how Auburn would respond against a non-conference opponent after a big SEC win.

The answer: Very well. Oh, and thanks for asking.

Auburn trounced Florida Atlantic 45-10 Saturday night in Jordan-Hare Stadium to improve to 7-1 a week after beating Texas A&M in College Station. Saturday's game was never close - Auburn led 38-7 at the half - but the win came at a price, at least in the short term.

Starting quarterback Nick Marshall suffered a shoulder injury after a huge first quarter and did not return. Malzahn didn't offer any insight to the extent of the injury after the game or whether he'd be available for next Saturday's game at Arkansas.

Auburn didn't miss a beat without him against overmatched Florida Atlantic, rolling up 628 yards in the process thanks to strong-arm backup Jeremy Johnson. He hit Sammie Coates with a 36-yard touchdown pass on his very first play.

"It just happened to be one of our third down plays. That just happened to be the play call for that situation," Malzahn said.

Johnson threw a 67-yard TD pass to Coates 10 minutes later. He finished hitting 10-of-16 passes for 192 yards, adding another 21 yards rushing. Marshall hit 1-of-1 passing for 10 yards and rushed six times for 73 yards.

Auburn ran it the first 14 plays. "That's what they were really giving us," Malzahn said. "But the emphasis took a dramatic turn after Marshall departed. With Johnson, the Tigers began passing.

"We're confident in Jeremy," Malzahn said. "Jeremy is a very good quarterback. He's got some experience now, but we'll see."

Marshall went to the locker room after the injury. He returned without his shoulder pads. But he came back with encouragement for his replacement.

"He was excited for Jeremy making plays," Malzahn said.

The Tigers scored touchdowns on their first four drives, and scored on six of their fist eight possession. Auburn scored just seven points in the second half, almost having as many players taking snaps as the points it scored. After combining for 45 points in the first half, the two combined for 10 points in the second half.

Johnson, Jonathan Wallace, Cameron Artis-Payne and Kiehl Frazier, the former quarterback turned defensive back turned wide receiver, returned to his old position to rush for 26 yards.

"Anytime you get to the second half of the game, and you want to play some people, and you want to run the clock out and get out with a victory, that's kind of what happened," Malzahn said.
A crowd of 85,000-plus celebrated the victory and left before it was over, content in knowing the Tigers would still be on a roll when it visits Arkansas.

It took 3 ½ minutes for Auburn to jump to a 14-0 lead. It was 38-0 in the second quarter before Florida Atlantic scored.

How did the Tigers do it? Lots of ways. Tre Mason scored on an 8-yard run to start things, Corey Grant scored on a 43-yard run a minute and half later. Marshall scored on a 10-yard run to give Auburn a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

But Marshall was hurt on a sack on the second play of the second quarter, and a game that was dedicated to running took a turn when Johnson came in. Johnson, on his first play, threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Sammie Coates, watched a Cody Parkey 43-yard field goal and then threw a 67-yard touchdown pass to Coates in a 10-minute span.

That gave Auburn a 38-0 lead with 3:10 left in the second quarter. Florida Atlantic's Jaquez Johnson scored on a 29-yard run a minute later. Still, Auburn led 38-7 at the half.

Artis-Payne scored on a 1-yard run midway through the third quarter. That was enough for everybody.

Letdown? No.

"I'd say or guys answered that by jumping on them early and taking care of business," Malzahn said.
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