AUBURN – Quarterback Cam Newton’s legs got a rest. Freshmen flooded the field on defense. Mario Fannin ran like a man who wants his job back. And Auburn’s football team took care of business at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday, romping to a 52-3 victory over Louisiana-Monroe.
Emory Blake catches 94-yard TD pass/AuburnUndercover.com staff
Ontero McCalebb ran 50 yards for a touchdown on the second play from scrimmage. Two plays into Auburn’s next possession, Newton hit wide-open Emory Blake with a 94-yard touchdown pass, the longest play from scrimmage in Auburn history.
The rout was on.
After three consecutive victories that weren’t decided until the final minute, the No. 11 Tigers took all the drama out of this one. It was a mismatch from the start. For the second straight season, they’re 5-0.
Newton, who entered the game leading the Southeastern Conference in rushing and pass efficiency, didn’t take off running a single time. He was sacked once for an 11-yard loss, and those were his running statistics for the game.
Until giving way to Barrett Trotter late in the third quarter, Newton completed 14-of-19 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns. He threw an interception at the ULM 1. Trotter completed 3-of-5 passes for 27 yards. He ran 18 yards for Auburn’s final touchdown, banging up his knee in the process. He will be evaluated Sunday. Clint Moseley finished the game.
Senior Mario Fannin, who had run just nine times and lost two fumbles, carried 10 times for 89 yards and a touchdown. He showed no ill effects from the shoulder injury that had slowed him in the previous two games.
On defense, coordinator Ted Roof went to the bench early and often. True freshman middle linebacker Jake Holland played for the first time this season and will not be redshirted. Most starters sat out the entire second half. Senior Antoine Carter was dressed but did not play. Sophomore Dee Ford started in his place.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik said he was proud his team was ready in a game in which it would have been easy not to be. But he wasn’t satisfied.
“Our goal this week was really about Auburn,” Chizik said. “It was trying to get better in some things as a whole football team. That was what we set our minds on today. I thought we lost some focus late in the second quarter and later in the game, but they kept playing.”
On offense, the Tigers totaled 505 yards – 272 passing and 233 running - on just 57 plays. ULM had 270 yards, just 38 on the ground. Most of those came on the last drive of the game.
Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said he didn’t want Newton, who carried 25 times for 176 yards in last Saturday’s victory over South Carolina, to run the ball against the Warhawks if he didn’t have to. After all, over the next four weeks, the Tigers play at Kentucky, Arkansas, LSU and at Ole Miss.
“But we were going to do whatever we had to do to win the game,” Malzahn said. As it turned out, that didn’t include Newton running with the ball. At all.
Freshman Mike Dyer, who rushed for 100 yards on 23 carries last Saturday, carried just seven times for 22 yards.
“I think it speaks for itself that I didn’t need to run the ball,” Newton said. “Other guys picked up the torch and ran with it. Mario, Onterio and Michael all had good games. They put this team on their backs.”
ULM, which fell to 1-3, never figured out Auburn’s offense and was overmatched against Auburn’s defense.
“Auburn has an excellent football team,” first-year coach Todd Berry said. “Coach Gene Chizik has every reason to be proud of what he has right now and the direction they are heading in. I think they played exceptionally hard today and kept us off balance.
“We have young players all around the field, and we could not find the football.”
After Auburn jumped to a 14-0 lead, ULM answered with its only points of the game, a 35-yard Radi Jabour field goal. Wes Byrum kicked a 19-yarder for Auburn, Dyer ran 3 yards and Carr caught a 16-yard pass as Auburn led 31-3 at halftime.
ULM lost a chance for more points when safety Zac Etheridge sniffed out a fake field goal and intercepted a pass thrown by holder and backup quarterback Cody Wells.
Lutzenkirchen caught a 5-yard pass, Fannin ran 2 yards and Trotter finished off the scoring in the second half.