It took only 49 days, but Auburn picked up its second win of the season, snapping a five-game losing streak with a 42-7 rout of New Mexico State at home.
The Tigers (2-7, 0-6) were aided in their win by two 100-yard rushing games from running backs Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb and a steady performance from first-time starter Jonathan Wallace.
Auburns' offense finally came alive Saturday, rolling up 475 total yards, including a pounding running attack that accounted for 311.
Gene Chizik was pleased — and relieved — with his teams' performance on Saturday.
"It was great for those guys to get a win," the coach said. "That's about as simple as I can put it. Those guys in there deserved to get a win."
The first half of play was not a sight for sore eyes, as both teams struggled to move the football with any kind of consistency.
It was midway through the second quarter before the first points were put on the board by either team.
From there, the Auburn offense awakened, as the Tigers used a 13-play, 89-yard drive that was punctuated by a 5-yard touchdown run from Tre Mason to take a 7-0 lead going into the break.
Riding that momentum, Auburn extended its lead to 14 points after a Jay Prosch 1-yard touchdown run on its opening drive of the second half.
The Tigers added two more touchdowns in the third, one on a 62-yard scoop-and-score from Daren Bates and the other on a 38-yard touchdown run from McCalebb to extend its lead to 28-0, securing their hard-to-find second win.
"I think the play Daren made really gave us a spark," Chizik said. "I believe that play sort of spring-boarded us for the rest of the game."
Mason was the workhouse for the Tigers Saturday, carrying the ball 22 times for 152 yards and a score. The senior speedster McCalebb added 113 yards on eight carries to go along with his two-touchdown game.
"We felt like we needed to stick with the ground game, even if they were putting eight, nine people in the box," Chizik said. "Both Onterio and Tre ran the ball very well, and I'm very proud of those guys."
Wallace concluded his first start under center with a 9-of-16 performance, throwing for 164 yards and his first-career touchdown, a 40-yarder to wideout Trovon Reed late in the fourth quarter.
On the defensive side of the ball, junior safety Demetruce McNeal led the Tigers with 10 tackles, including two for loss. Jake Holland added seven stops, while Bates and Jermaine Whitehead each had six.
In a season where the Tigers have been criticized for lack of finishing late in games, Chizik said that wasn't the case today.
"I thought we played as well as we have all year in the third and fourth quarters," he said. "Our defense played very well on third down and our offense ran the ball effectively. I was especially proud of how we played in the fourth quarter."
The Tigers will now set their sights on Georgia next week, as they welcome the Bulldogs into Jordan-Hare Stadium for the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry."
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at email@example.com.