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Reporter: Cohen Dalzell Camera: Cohen Dalzell Writer: Cohen Dalzell Editor: Cohen Dalzell

Auburn Takes Care of Business vs Samford To Secure Homecoming Win

AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) – It was homecoming for Auburn football this weekend, and the Tigers didn’t let the fans down, winning 45-13 over Samford to secure their first 3-0 start since the 2019 season.

Jordan-Hare Stadium was electric for homecoming weekend, something that Coach Freeze took notice of.

“Oh man, what a great crowd at Jordan-Hare. I couldn’t say enough about our students, supporters, band, fans and cheerleaders,” said Freeze, “Tiger Walk was incredible. Homecoming is here, it seemed like the streets were more packed driving yesterday than the first one.”

However, despite the crowd, there was still some uneasiness before kickoff after a game against Cal last week that had many questioning the Auburn passing attack. The Tigers quickly seemed to put these concerts to bed by coming out firing, driving their way down the field thanks to a combination of the arm of Payton Thorne and the legs of Jarquez Hunter. 

However, the drive would end on 3rd and goal when Thorne threw a pick in the back of the end zone to Samford’s Jayden Mosley. Then, midway through the second quarter, Thorne threw yet another pick in the end zone, this time to Samford’s Kourtlan Marsh.

From then on, Thorne looked to settle in, finishing the day 24 of 34 passing for 282 yards. Thorne threw for a touchdown, and two picks with a QBR of 146.8.

“I thought he played really solid,” said Coach Freeze of Thorne, “I think it’s the first time since 2013 an Auburn quarterback has rushed for 100 yards and thrown for over 200. I thought he had a solid day.”

Thorne had 4 completions of 30 yards or more in the game, showing that the Auburn offense has the capability to stretch the field on their day. 

As Coach Freeze said, Thorne also had a great day on the ground: rushing for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns on 11 attempts.

“I guess, I’m not that slow. I couldn’t really run last year. It was good to get back out there and run again” said Thorne when asked about his rushing performance, “My body finally feels back to 100% after dealing with some stuff I couldn’t run last year, so it was great.”

Later in the game, Robby Ashford took control of the offense, rushing for a touchdown in the 3rd quarter from a yard out. Ashford also secured his first passing touchdown of the season with a 32-yard strike to Tight End Micah Riley.

The Auburn pass-catchers also had their best day of the season so far as well. Receiver Jay Fair led the team with 7 catches for 93 yards, and Shane Hooks and Micah Riley had a touchdown each. Tight End Rivaldo Fairweather had another good game, hauling in 5 passes for 57 yards, including a 41-yard reception. 

Though not as prominent as they were in week 1, the running back room had a solid day overall. The 4-deep rotation of Jarquez Hunter, Damari Alston, Brian Battie, and Jeremiah Cobb combined for 86 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown by Jarquez Hunter in the 3rd quarter. 

“We just started out with Monday, practice day, we took the step of just showing effort, great effort, and just showed up in the game,” said Hooks when asked how the outside receivers stepped up this week.

The Auburn defense also showed out, holding Samford to only 218 yards and just 5-14 on third down, as well as forcing two turnovers. Coming off a great defensive performance against Cal last week, belief is high in this Tigers’ defensive unit. 

The interceptions were delivered by J.D. Rhym and Jaylin Simpson. Rhym’s pick was the first of his career, and Simpson now has a pick in every game this season and is the first Auburn player to have picks in 3 straight games since Jerraud Powers in 2007. To add to the list of firsts, Lawrence Jackson and Cam Riley each recorded their first sacks as Auburn Tigers.

When asked about improvements he’s seen in the defense, senior LB Larry Nixon III had this to say: “Our communication, chemistry, and everything. We have a  lot of players that are new here. From last year to this year, we have a lot of new players, especially me coming in as a transfer. We had to get adjusted to each other and learn how we work together and play together.”

Overall, Auburn put in a well-rounded performance that they will look to build on as they head into SEC play next week against Texas A&M in College Station.


Peyton Thorne scrambles for a first down against the Samford Bulldogs. Photo by: Connor King