OXFORD, MS (WSFA) – Auburn responded to a season in peril with three third quarter touchdowns to beat the Ole Miss Rebels 31-16 on Saturday.
The Tigers moved to 5-3, and 2-3 in the conference. Ole Miss falls to 5-3, and 1-3 in SEC play.
Auburn backs had a banner day, romping through the Ole Miss defense. JaTarvious Whitlow gained 170 yards to pace the Tigers ground attack.
On defense, Nick Coe led a defensive line that harassed Rebels quarterback Jordan Ta’amu all day, especially in the third quarter.
Auburn led 10-6 at the half.
Auburn’s opening second-half drive started on its own 32. Runs by Whitlow took the ball into Ole Miss territory. A 21-yard Jarrett Stidham toss to receiver Seth Williams across the middle moved the ball to the Rebels 17.
After a speed sweep run by Anthony Schwartz took the ball to the Rebels 1-yard line, back Malik Miller busted into the end zone on the next play, putting Auburn up 17-6 after the PAT with 12:07 left in the third quarter.
A long Ole Miss march stalled despite a first and goal, and the Rebels had to settle for a field goal, making the score 17-9 with 8:30 remaining in the third quarter.
A four-play, 75-yard Auburn drive on the ground concluded with Schwartz covering a Whitlow fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. The fumble came after Whitlow had broken through the Rebels defense on a 54-yard romp.
The PAT made the score 24-9.
After the defense held Ole Miss on a fourth down, Stidham hit a 62-yard bomb to Williams followed by a Miller 2-yard run to make the score 31-9 with the PAT.
Ole Miss scored its first touchdown with 2:24 left in the contest.
Auburn took the lead to start the game on a 3-yard pass from Stidham to Whitlow. Stidham on third down found Whitlow wide open in the right flat putting the Tigers ahead 7-0 to conclude a 77-yard touchdown drive.
On the first Rebels possession, Ta’amu drove the Rebels into field-goal range, but Auburn blocked its fifth field goal of the season when Marlon Davidson forced his way up through the middle of the line.
The ensuing Auburn possession started at the 23-yard line where a Jarrett Stidham 9-yard pass to Ryan Davis started an impressive drive.
Darius Slayton later went high to snag a 27-yard pass to the Ole Miss 5 on what would be the first scoring drive of the day.
Ole Miss responded with a 36-yard field goal on a march that mixed Ta’amu passes and runs.
Auburn’s defense held on a fourth down try by Ole Miss near midfield to start the second quarter. A missed 47-yard field goal by Anders Carlson ended the Tigers hopes of taking advantage of excellent field position.
An Ole Miss field goal made the score 7-6.
Auburn drove from its own four to near midfield mainly on runs by Whitlow and Shaun Shivers. Gus Malzahn went for it a fourth and short and Whitlow moved the chains.
Auburn called a screen pass on a Rebels blitz and Whitlow ran 27 yards to the Ole Miss 12.
Malzahn settled for a 28-yard field goal after a first down at the 12.
Backup quarterback Malik Willis entered the game for Auburn in the second quarter for three plays, but didn’t attempt a pass.
The Tigers played the first half without Jeremiah Dinson, who Malzahn called one of the team's leaders on defense. He was forced to sit out due to a targeting penalty he received in the loss to Tennessee. Dinson is a junior defensive back.
Six Tiger rushers, led by Whitlow, amassed 269 yards for Auburn. Whitlow, from LaFayette, AL, also caught four passes for 38 yards, giving the redshirt freshman more than 200 total yards for the day.
Stidham connected on 13 of 22 passes for 215 yards and one touchdown. Ta’amu was good on 27 of 46 attempts for 324 yards. Three Ole Miss backs could only manage 123 yards on the ground.
Auburn gained 484 yards for the day to 447 for Ole Miss. The Auburn defense racked up five sacks.
Auburn has a week off before facing Texas A&M at home on Nov. 3.