AUBURN, Ala. – Tre Mason rushed for 152 yards and Onterio McCalebb added 113 and two touchdowns to help Auburn snap a five-game losing streak with a 42-7 victory over New Mexico State on Saturday.
Daren Bates returned a fumble for a 62-yard touchdown for the Tigers (2-7), who picked up a much-needed win in the program's worst start in 60 years with games against No. 7 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama looming. It was Auburn's longest fumble return for a score since 1969.
The rushing outburst helped take pressure off freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace in his first start and gave beleaguered fans something to cheer. The Tigers got season-highs in points and yards with 475 to send the Aggies (1-8) to their eighth straight defeat.
Mason had 22 carries, including a 40-yarder, and scored on a 5-yard run. McCalebb's eight rushes were highlighted by touchdowns of 38 and 7 yards.
Wallace was solid in his starting debut and provided a spark for the nation's 120th-rated offense.
He completed 9 of 16 passes for 164 yards. He had a throw into double coverage near the goal line intercepted but also threw a 40-yard touchdown to Trovon Reed in the fourth. Reed was sporting the No. 37 jersey in honor of former teammate Ladarious Phillips, who was among three people killed during a pool-party shooting over the summer.
The elusive Wallace only ran three times for 9 yards, but that threat opened up opportunities for Mason and the speedy McCalebb. He also managed to avoid getting sacked after Auburn had allowed 29 sacks on the season.
The two tailbacks had only one 100-yard effort apiece entering the game.
Bates provided the biggest highlight play in a season full of lowlights. He scooped up the ball and rambled toward the end zone, stiff-arming Germi Morrison to the ground at the 20.
Andrew Manley completed 17 of 30 passes for 222 yards but was sacked four times. Austin Franklin gained 154 yards on seven catches, including a 51-yarder.
Auburn's defense rebounded after giving up 671 yards — the most ever yielded by the Tigers — against No. 16 Texas A&M.
New Mexico State didn't score until Tiger Powell's 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter. The Aggies were outgained 475-305.
The Tigers' 7-0 lead at halftime was their first since going up 10-9 on No. 5 LSU on Sept. 22. It came courtesy of Mason's run to cap a 13-play, 89-yard drive
Fullback Jay Prosch then scored his first career touchdown on a 1-yard run to cap Auburn's opening drive of the second half.
The Tigers also scored on drives of 80, 96 and 77 yards.