There’s just something about Kyle Field that brings out the best in Auburn.
The Tigers scored on their first possession and never looked back in grabbing a 28-20 victory over 17th-ranked Texas A&M in a Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
Auburn (4-0, 1-0) had leads of 14-0, 21-3 and 28-10, but A&M (2-2, 0-1) scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to make it interesting. The Aggies scored with 2 minutes, 12 seconds left on a 15-yard touchdown reception by true freshman Ainias Smith to pull within a touchdown and two-point conversion, but Auburn picked up a first down and was able to run out the clock to improve to 4-0 at Kyle Field.
Auburn controlled the line of scrimmage by holding A&M to only 56 yards rushing. The Tigers, meanwhile, ran for 193 yards, the second-most allowed in Jimbo Fisher’s two seasons in Aggieland.
“They did a couple of things we haven’t seen,” said Fisher, adding that they eventually got that under control.
Auburn put the game away with a 12-play, 69-yard touchdown drive capped by an 8-yard run by Jatarvious Whitlow with 8:27 left in the game to make it 28-10. The Tigers faced only one third down in their longest drive of the season, taking 6:07 off the clock.
“They made plays today at critical times,” Fisher said.
A&M finally got the crowd into the game with its first touchdown of the game in the first minute of the fourth quarter. Quartney Davis caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Kellen Mond. Davis slipped out of the grasp of Auburn’s Smoke Monday at the 8. Mond was 6-of-7 passing on the drive for 74 yards.
Auburn built on a its 14-3 halftime lead by getting a fumble recovery on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. Auburn safety Daniel Thomas knocked the ball from Isaiah Spiller and also recovered it. The Tigers needed six plays to cover 38 yards with Seth Williams catching a 9-yard touchdown to make it 20-3.
Whitlow rushed for 67 yards on 18 carries. True freshman quarterback Bo Nix in his first true road game completed 12 of 20 for 100 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. He added 38 yards rushing on 12 carries. Williams had four catches for 47 yards.
A&M had a 391-299 edge in total yards because Mond threw for 335 yards on 31 of 49. He had two touchdowns and was sacked three times.
Jhamon Ausbon had eight catches for 111 yards, but was hurt in the fourth quarter. Quartney Davis added five catches for 82 yards and Kendrick Rogers four for 45. Mond was the team’s leading rusher with 26 yards on nine carries.
A&M defensive back Keldrick Carper led the team with seven tackles. Linebackers Anthony Hines III and Buddy Johnson each had six as did defensive back Larry Pryor.
Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene had a game-eight eight tackles. Linebacker K.B. Britt added seven.
Auburn also started the first half with a bang.
Wide receiver Anthony Schwartz dashed 57 yards on a reverse on the fourth play of the game to make it 7-0.
A&M’s first possession ended with a missed 47-yard field goal by Seth Small.
Auburn scored on its third possession to make it 14-0. Backup quarterback Joey Gatewood and tight end John Shenker teamed up for a 6-yard touchdown pass. That capped a six-play, 46-yard drive jump-started by a 30-yard punt return by Christian Tutt.
A&M made it 14-3 early in the second quarter on a 33-yard Small field goal. A 17-yard run by Mond and a 41-yard reception by Ausbon were the big plays on the drive.