Tre Mason wasn’t 100 percent healthy heading into Saturday’s game at No. 7 Texas A&M.
Mason stretches for the game-winning touchdown/Todd Van Emst photo
But that didn’t slow down Auburn’s junior running back one bit as he led the Tigers to a 45-41 upset win at Kyle Field.
“My heel was a little banged up before the game but there are just some things you have to play through,” Mason said. “We need big wins like this to make a statement. I had to come through.”
And come through he did. Mason rushed for a game-high 178 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. The Tigers rolled up 379 rushing yards against the Aggies.
“He’s an extremely tough guy,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “He was a little banged up coming into the game and he really rose to the occasion. I think our offensive line did too.”
Mason was at his best in the fourth quarter when he gained 108 yards on 10 carries including a 53-yard run to set up the Tigers’ second of three touchdowns in the final period.
He had six carries on Auburn’s 13-play, 75-yard game-winning drive including a 5-yard run and stretch for the final touchdown.
“That’s Auburn’s identity, tough, hard-nosed football,” Mason said. “We’re going to run the ball and if you can’t stop it, oh well. We stuck to it and the o-line did great. They had a great push upfront, and I had to do my job, which is to run hard.”
Mason’t best run of the game may have come in the second quarter. On a 4th-and-1 at Texas A&M’s 4-yard line, Mason was hit behind the line of scrimmage but powered through three defenders to get the first down.
Auburn scored three plays later to take a 17-14 lead.
“I was always told big-time players make big plays in big games, and I had to do it,” he said.
The win vaulted Auburn up the polls to No. 11 and put the Tigers in position to compete for the SEC West title and a berth in the SEC Championship game.
It’s a huge turnaround for a team that finished 3-9 last year, and the enormity of the moment wasn’t lost on Mason.
“This is a great win for my team,” Mason said. “I was a little emotional after the game. I was happy the whole time; those were tears of happiness. We did something a lot of people didn’t think we could do.
“This was a statement game. The statement that we want to put across is that we are coming.”
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