Auburn ends 2-game skid with 26-10 win over No. 25 A&M
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Auburn coach Gus Malzahn wanted to run the ball 50 times against No. 25 Texas A&M on Saturday night.
The Tigers ended up getting 52 carries and piling up a season-high 311 yards in a 26-10 victory.
Jovon Robinson led the way with 159 yards rushing and a touchdown and Auburn intercepted three passes, also a season best.
''We played good in all three phases really for the first time all year,'' Malzahn said. ''We played our best game tonight.''
Jeremy Johnson wasn't flashy, but was effective in his first start since Auburn's third game with Sean White out with an injured left knee. Johnson finished with 132 yards and a touchdown.
Malzahn was impressed with the way Johnson stayed focused after his benching early this season.
''I think it says a lot about his character,'' Malzahn said. ''He went through a storm early in the season and he kept working.''
Auburn (5-4, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) built a 14-3 lead by halftime, with its second touchdown coming on the drive after the first of Aggies quarterback Kyler Murray's three interceptions. The Tigers didn't score a touchdown in the second half, but got four field goals by Daniel Carlson to secure the victory that snapped a two-game skid.
Making his second start since Kyle Allen was benched, Murray threw for 105 yards before leaving after a hit to the head late in the third quarter. Jake Hubenak took over for Texas A&M (6-3, 3-3, No. 19 CFP) and threw for 32 yards and a touchdown.
''Turnovers were the difference ... and we gave up over 300 yards rushing,'' A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. ''It's hard to win a game that way.''
A 35-yard field goal by Auburn made it 17-3 early in the third quarter.
Murray threw his third interception on A&M's first possession of the second half. The Tigers capitalized on that mistake with a 30-yard field goal that extended the lead to 20-3.
Murray was injured when he was hit in the head at the end of a run with less than 3 minutes left in the third quarter. Murray walked off the field but didn't return and Sumlin refused to provide any details on his injury.
Auburn cornerback Jeremiah Dinson was injured on the same play on a block by Ricky Seals-Jones and he was carted off the field with a leg injury. Malzahn didn't say what his injury was but said ''it doesn't look good.''
Hubenak took over and found Speedy Noil in the corner of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown pass on the next play to get A&M within 20-10 late in the third.
A 21-yard field goal by Auburn pushed the lead to 23-10 early in the fourth and Carlson added one from 31 yards with about 6 1/2 minutes remaining.
The game was played on a wet and chilly night that started with a packed house, but soon thinned out as many people began leaving or taking cover in the concourses to avoid the steady rain. Johnny Manziel was among those in attendance as the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner served as honorary captain for the game. Johnny Football had the weekend off after the Cleveland Browns lost to Cincinnati on Thursday night in his fourth career NFL start.
By late in the fourth quarter the only sections that remained full were the ones with the A&M band and another filled with the Auburn band and Tiger fans.
Carlton Davis intercepted Murray's pass in the end zone and Robinson got things going with a 45-yard run on first down. He capped that drive with a 1-yard dive to make it 14-3 early in the second. It wasn't initially ruled a touchdown, but a review showed he scored.
Murray directed the Aggies down the field on the next possession only to come up empty again when Justin Garrett jumped in front of his pass and intercepted it at the 1.
Malzahn raved about the work defensive coordinator Will Muschamp did in containing Murray.
''We were really stressed. He's like a video game because he can really make things happen when things break down,'' Malzahn said. ''Will had a great plan. Tried to keep him in the pocket and make him play traditional quarterback. That was really our plan and for the most part we did that.''
The Tigers took a 7-3 lead when Johnson found Marcus Davis on a 9-yard touchdown pass with about 6 minutes left in the first quarter.
A 50-yard field goal by Taylor Bertolet gave A&M a 3-0 lead.
AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org