AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) -- Auburn (4-4,1-4 SEC) will receive its first conference win of the season after bringing down Mississippi State (4-4,1-4 SEC), 27-13 in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The Auburn offense came out hot after not showing much at all in SEC play this season. Payton Thorne came out of the gates getting the ball in his playmakers' hands quickly, and often. Auburn scored on its first drive with a Shane Hooks catch of 28 yards with 11:38 remaining, marking this as Auburn’s earliest score of the year.
Mississippi State drove down the field on the ensuing drive, going 65 yards that would be capped off by a 29-yard field goal from Kyle Ferrie. The Auburn defense wouldn't give them much to say after that, forcing them to punt on every drive remaining in the half.
Ja’varrius Johnson showed early why he has been missed in the Tigers receiving room. Thorne would find the speedy senior for a 45-yard touchdown pass allowing the Tigers to improve to a 14-3 lead going into the second quarter.
Auburn would get the ball to start the second quarter and would stall out after going for 31 yards in six plays. Jarquez Hunter had a 32-yard run on this drive, but two plays later the Tigers would be called for a 15-yard offensive pass interference, giving Alex McPherson a 39-yard field goal attempt, which he would make. McPherson has been perfect on the year and has made 14 consecutive field goals.
“As difficult as it's been for us to score, he’s always on my mind…so I think he’s really, really good,” Freeze said about having McPherson as a weapon.
Getting the ball back with 1:14 left on the clock before half, Auburn would start on their own 32-yard line. The drive went 68 yards in eight plays and was capped off by a seven-yard touchdown pass to freshman running back, Jeremiah Cobb, the first receiving touchdown of his Auburn career.
Payton Thorne went into the half with an impressive statline, completing 15-20 passes for 192 yards. 11 different players would catch a first-half pass for Auburn with seven of them having receptions of 10 yards or more.
“That’s the group (receivers) I'm probably the most excited for to see have the most success,” said Freeze.
Auburn would hold the Mississippi State offense to yet another field goal coming out for the second half, cutting the Auburn lead to 24-6.
Auburn came out in the second half looking like a completely different offense than what we had seen prior. Their lone offensive drive in the third quarter came with 9:10 left and ended with a 49-yard field goal from McPherson. Giving them a 27-6 lead and their last score of the game.
The Auburn defense gave up a few big plays in the second half, but only gave up one touchdown on what was a miraculous catch from Mississippi State receiver, Zavion Thomas, for a 19-yard touchdown. With Ferrie connecting on the PAT, Auburn would still hold a 27-13 lead, and that's where the score would stay.
Jarquez Hunter had another impactful day for the Auburn rushing attack going for 144 yards on 17 carries.
“Just work,” Freeze said about Jarquez Hunter. “It’s good to see Jarquez continue to have success.”
Thorne had his best showing yet as a Tiger against Power 5 competition, completing 20-26 for 230 yards and connecting with 12 different Auburn pass catchers.
“I thought Payton played really well, and it was good to see,” said Hugh Freeze.
Defensively, Eugene Asante would lead the charge with 9 tackles, followed by Keionte Scott with 7 and Cam Riley with 4.
Auburn will travel to the Music City next week to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-6) in a game set for a 3 p.m. kickoff on SEC Network.