(Saturday, September 4th)
Final Score: (22) Auburn 52, Arkansas State 26
Auburn, AL (Sports Network) - Junior quarterback Cameron Newton was impressive in his Auburn debut, throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for two more, as the 22nd-ranked Tigers dominated Arkansas State, 52-26, in the season opener for both schools.
Newton, a former Florida Gator who made a stop at a junior college last season, completed 9-of-14 passes for 186 yards. He also rushed for 171 yards on 15 carries for the Tigers (1-0), who went 8-5 last year and are nationally ranked to start a season for the seventh time in the last eight years.
"As the game kept going on, I felt my feet settling in," Newton said. "There were a lot of times I thought I could make plays with my feet because of the man coverage."
Michael Dyer carried the ball 14 times for 95 yards and a score. Mario Fannin hauled in four passes for 65 yards and two touchdowns, while Quindarius Carr caught two passes for 87 yards and score.
Ryan Aplin connected on 28-of-42 passes for 278 yards and one touchdown for the Red Wolves (0-1), who posted a 4-8 record last season, their worst showing since going 3-8 in 2004.
Derek Lawson and Jermaine Robertson each ran for a score. Dwayne Frampton caught eight passes for 74 yards and a touchdown, while Allen Muse tallied 80 receiving yards on four catches.
"Offensively, it is the same stuff we've been seeing and we really played well at times, but they hit us with a bunch of big plays," Arkansas State defensive back M.D. Jennings said. "We have to run to the ball and get better tackles."
Arkansas State drew first blood with over five minutes to play in the first quarter. Frampton caught a 10-yard TD pass to cap a six-play, 82-yard drive. but the extra point was blocked.
Auburn responded with a touchdown of its own on the ensuing possession. Onterio McCalebb's 35-yard dash set up a three-yard TD run by Kodi Burns.
After the Red Wolves went three-and-out on offense, the Tigers scored on their first play. Fannin hauled in a 36-yard pass from Newton to make it a 14-6 game after one quarter.
Newton's two-yard touchdown run early in the second frame gave Auburn a 21-6 margin. Arkansas State, though, fought right back with an eight-play, 55-yard drive that Robertson ended with a 13-yard TD run.
Carr's 48-yard touchdown reception gave the Tigers a 28-13 lead with just under six minutes left until half.
After Brian Davis made a 26-yard field goal for the Red Wolves, Newton took a quarterback draw 71 yards for a score and a 35-16 Auburn advantage.
Lawson got the third quarter started with an eight-yard TD run to close the gap to 35-23, but the remainder of the game was dominated by the Tigers.
Newton and Fannin hooked up for a 38-yard score midway through the period to make it a 42-23 contest. Wes Byrum added a 24-yard field goal before the stanza came to an end.
Dyer's two-yard touchdown run in the early stages of the fourth made it a 52-23 game. Davis made a 41-yard field in garbage time to account for the final score.
The only previous meeting between these two teams took place in 2006, a 27-0 Auburn victory. Furthermore, the Tigers are 15-0 all-time against current members of the Sun Belt Conference...The Tigers, who are 91-25-2 all-time in season-opening games, have won their last five lidlifters...The Tigers had 608 yards of total offense, while the Red Wolves had 366 yards...Phillip Butterfield connected on 5-of-7 passes for 45 yards for Arkansas State.
09/05 01:42:15 ET