Oct. 12, 2013
Auburn, Ala. - Auburn scored on four of its first five offensive possessions in the first half, racking up 427 yards of total offense in the decisive opening 30 minutes as the Tigers handed Western Carolina a 62-3 loss Saturday afternoon in nonconference action at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Making his first collegiate start, Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson threw four touchdown passes as part of a 17-for-21, 201-yard performance with Tre Mason adding a pair of rushing scores for the Tigers in the win. All told, Auburn recorded eight scoring plays of 20-yards or more, including two of 50 yards or longer.
Facing its third NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team this fall, Western Carolina (1-6) used two quarterbacks in Saturday's game. Sophomore Troy Mitchell earned the start and was in control of the offense for the first three drives - five total in the game, all coming in the first half. Junior Eddie Sullivan had seven total series in the backfield including all five of WCU's drives in the second half.
Catamount sophomore wide receiver Karnorris Benson hauled in three catches for 65 yards - 35 of which came on a pass from Sullivan in the third quarter, the longest of the season for the second-year QB. Freshman Terryon Robinson also pulled down a 35-yard reception with classmate Willie Police and tight end Michael Helms also adding receptions.
After falling down 14-0 in the first quarter, the Catamounts mounted a 10-play drive that ended with kicker Richard Sigmon splitting the uprights on a career-long, 49-yard field goal to put WCU on the board. The drive was spurred by a 20-yard pass play from Mitchell to Benson, with Mitchell adding a 19-yard scramble while avoiding the Tiger pass rush.
The Tigers answered, however, with a quick-strike, lighting up the scoreboard for a third time in the opening quarter with a three-play drive that was capped off by a 46-yard pass from Johnson to Ricardo Lewis.
Ahead 42-3 at intermission, Auburn (5-1) - which has five wins on the season coming in its five home dates - scored on three of its five drives in the second half including an eight-play, 71-yard drive that ended in Jonathan Ford's 38-yard rushing touchdown on the first play in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers churned out 511 yards on the ground on 43 carries and completed 17-of-22 passes for 201 yards for 712 yards of total offense. WCU was limited to 66 rushing yards on 31 carries and 107 yards through the air completing 6-of-17 passes for 173 yards of total offense on 48 plays.
Sophomore Sertonuse Harris led the Catamounts with nine tackles with classmate Jaleel Lorquet and juniors Ace Clark and Christon Gill finishing with eight tackles a piece. Clark and senior defensive lineman Brian Johnson both tallied half a tackle for loss while true freshman corner Trey Morgan had a TFL as a part of his five tackles.
Freshman corner Fred Payne gave the Catamount defense their first stop of the afternoon as he intercepted Jeremy Johnson pass over the middle, pulling the pick away from the Auburn receiver for the first interception of his career.
Western Carolina returns home and to NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) play next Saturday as it opens back-to-back home games for Hall of Fame and Homecoming Weekends.
The Catamounts welcome the Wofford Terriers - ranked 12th this week in both polls - to E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field for a 3:30 pm kickoff on Saturday, Oct. 19. WCU will celebrate the induction of its 24th class into its Athletics Hall of Fame.