Auburn eases past overmatched Florida Atlantic
by Ryan Black
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
Oct 26, 2013 | 1601 views |  0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates scores a touchdown. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates scores a touchdown. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
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AUBURN — Auburn wasn't expected to be tested by Florida Atlantic on Saturday night.

As it turned out, it wasn't.

The No. 11-ranked Tigers once again leaned on their dominant rushing attack to cruise to a 45-10 win against the overmatched Owls of Conference USA.

But Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said it wasn't nearly as effortless as it looked.

"That was a good team we beat out there," he said. "They can trot out 11 good guys, so I'm just happy to get the win."

Regardless of Malzahn's thoughts on the game, his team made the victory look easy.

How much so?

Starting quarterback Nick Marshall left the game with a shoulder injury on the second play of the second quarter and the team didn't flinch.

One play later, backup Jeremy Johnson connected with Sammie Coates on a 36-yard touchdown pass to push Auburn's lead to 28-0 with 13:55 remaining in the first half.

It didn't take long for Auburn (7-1) to stake itself out to an early lead, as only 2:03 had ticked off the clock before it reached the end zone for the first time. Marshall kept the ball himself and went 14 yards on the first play from scrimmage. Two plays later, he ran for another 45 yards, showing how things would go the rest of the evening. Tre Mason capped the opening drive by bulling his way into the end zone from the 8-yard line at the 12:57 mark, dragging multiple defenders with him.

Auburn's defense came up big on the ensuing possession, as senior end Dee Ford forced a fumble that was recovered by safety Jermaine Whitehead, giving the Tigers the ball at the Owls' 43-yard line.

It took all of one play for Auburn to hit pay dirt again, with Corey Grant taking a handoff and darting to the outside. The Opelika native then turned on the speed as he sprinted up the right sideline, only stopping once he crossed the goal line 43 yards later to give the Tigers a 14-0 lead with 11:34 remaining in the first quarter.

It took a whopping five minutes before Auburn scored again, but with 6:54 to play in the first quarter, Auburn was up 21-0. This time, it was Marshall who did the honors. Starting at Florida Atlantic's 28-yard line, the Georgia native picked up nine yards on first down. Three plays after that, he scored from the 10-yard line, giving him a rushing touchdown for the third consecutive contest he's appeared in.

And once Marshall left the game, the Tigers' offense didn't miss a beat.

Johnson showed he wasn't satisfied with just one touchdown toss to Coates, which came on his first play of the game. So the true freshman quarterback doubled the fun, connecting with the sophomore receiver on a 67-yard scoring strike with 3:10 to go in the first half. The pass served as the longest completion of Johnson's career, and was the fifth touchdown catch for Coates this year.

That touchdown extended Auburn's lead to 38-0, but on the ensuing possession, Florida Atlantic (2-6) at least assured it wouldn't get blanked. The Owls imitated the Tigers, embarking on a quick three-play, 67-yard drive. The lion's share of the yardage was due to FAU quarterback Jaquez Johnson, who hooked up with Daniel McKinney on a 38-yard gain on first down, and then decided to keep it himself two plays later. The sophomore broke into the back end of Auburn's secondary, and no Tiger defender was able to track him down before he reached the end zone 29 yards later.

The Owls followed up that score with another one coming out of halftime — a 31-yard field goal by kicker Mitch Anderson — which cut the Tigers' advantage to 38-10 with 11:45 left in the third stanza. That was as close as the visitors would get, though.

Auburn responded with one last scoring drive on the next possession, going 61 yards in 3:06. It was done through the efforts of Auburn's backups, and not a single play went through the air. Johnson, Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne collected all 61 of the yards on the ground, capped by Artis-Payne's one-yard touchdown with 8:35 remaining in the third period, which marked the final score for either side.
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Auburn eases past overmatched Florida Atlantic by Ryan Black
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

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