Auburn ASU

Auburn’s JaTarvious Whitlow (28) leaps into the air as he runs to the outside against Alabama State at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. Auburn leads Alabama State 42-2 at halftime.

AUBURN — Anthony Schwartz’s speed was the stuff of legend before he ever got to Auburn.

He set the junior world record in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.15 seconds on March 31, 2017. He won the Florida Class 2A state championship in the event in May, then finished second at the World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland, over the summer.

After playing but not touching the ball in his college debut last week against Washington, Schwartz finally got a chance to show what he could do with a football in his hands Saturday against Alabama State.

The true freshman wide receiver did not disappoint in the Tigers’ 63-9 blowout of the Hornets.

The first touch of his college career was a 12-yard run. The third was a 57-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Jarrett Stidham on a play where the Hornets defender had no chance of keeping up with the speedy Schwartz.

That was the Tigers’ second score of the game. Schwartz was also responsible for the sixth, taking a sweep around the left side for a 23-yard rushing touchdown.

The freshman finished the game with three carries for 50 yards and three catches for 67 yards.

Thomas’ picks

Daniel Thomas has already had a few memorable games in his college career. He intercepted Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts twice in the 2016 Iron Bowl, which was the first game he saw significant action in as a true freshman.

But the Robert E. Lee High product will certainly remember Auburn’s latest game for a long time.

Seven seconds after the No. 7-ranked Tigers had scored their second touchdown of the game, the junior safety intercepted Alabama State quarterback DJ Pearson and returned the ball 29 yards to the end zone. Midway through the second quarter, Thomas came up with his second pick.

The pick-six marked the Tigers’ first since Nick Ruffin ran one back in a win over Louisiana-Monroe on Nov. 18 of last season. That game was also the last time Kevin Steele’s defense came up with multiple interceptions.

Medical marvels

It was impressive enough that Will Hastings and Eli Stove had been cleared to return to practice this past week, less than six months after both tore ACLs during spring practice.

Even more impressive — and perhaps even incredible — is that they both saw the field Saturday against Alabama State. Head coach Gus Malzahn said Tuesday that, even though they were practicing, they wouldn’t play until ready and that the Tigers would “see when that is.”

“When” proved to be five days later. Both played limited snaps and neither recorded a reception — Stidham overthrew Hastings on a deep pass in the second quarter — but the fact that both are healthy enough to just be on the field is a significant boost for Auburn’s pass-catching corps.

Hastings, a senior, caught 26 passes for 525 yards and four touchdowns last season, and Stove, a junior, totaled 29 receptions for 265 yards and 30 carries for 315 yards and two scores.

Defensive lineman Daquan Newkirk also made his Auburn debut Saturday after missing the entire spring and part of fall camp with a torn Achilles tendon.

Jack of all trades

Devan Barrett started his Auburn career as a running back, moved to wide receiver late during the spring, and right before the start of his sophomore season, began playing defensive back.

On Saturday, he played extensively on special teams. And he made his mark, too, returning a blocked Alabama State punt 10 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.

Sophomore Jordyn Peters was credited with the block. It was Auburn’s first blocked punt returned for a touchdown since Ruffin did the same at Texas A&M on Nov. 4 of last season.

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