AUBURN, Ala. – The Auburn football team opened the Guz Malzahn era with a 31-24 win over Washington State on Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The two teams played a see-saw first half which saw five lead changes and 46 total points before Auburn pulled out the victory.
Auburn rushed for 297 yards on 45 carries, led by Corey Grant's 146, which included a 75-yard touchdown run in the second quarter which helped give Auburn a lead it would hold onto for the rest of the game. Nick Marshall finished 10-for-19 for 99 yards.
Sammie Coates (44 yards) and Quan Bray (28 yards) each had three catches.
Auburn's defense collected three interceptions on the night, two by Robenson Therezie, including one in the end zone as Washington State was driving late in the fourth quarter for a tying score.
Washington State struck first, taking a seven-point lead on a Jeremiah Laufasa 4-yard run, capping a 12-play, 75-yard drive. Auburn took its first lead of the game when Ryan White's two-point conversion run made it 8-7 following a Tre Mason 8-yard scoring run.
The touchdown the 10th of Mason's career while the successful two-point conversion was Auburn's first since Lee Guess caught a Carl Stewart pass at Alabama in 2006.
Washington State took a 14-8 lead with 8:02 left in the first half on a Connor Halliday 7-yard touchdown pass to Bobby Ratliff, capping off a nine-play, 67-yard drive.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Mason returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for the game-tying score. A successful Cody Parkey extra-point put Auburn ahead, 15-14.
Mason's 100-yard return tied for the second-longest in school history and marks the sixth consecutive season in which Auburn has returned at least one kickoff for a touchdown, tied for the third-longest active streak in the nation.
Washington State wasted little time answering Mason's return, going 75 yards in just 1:28 to reclaim the lead, 21-15, with 6:18 left in the half. Halliday hit Ratliff for a 53-yard pass down to the 1-yard line before Laufasa carried it in for his second score of the day.
Grant's 75-yard touchdown run on the first play following the Washington State score tied it and a Parkey extra point gave Auburn a 22-21 lead. A career-long 47-yard field goal by Parkey with 1:11 left in the first half put Auburn ahead, 25-21.
The two teams traded field goals in the third quarter as Parkey's 26-yarder extended Auburn's lead to 28-21 while an Andrew Furney 43-yard kick made it 28-24 with 4:18 left in the quarter. It was the only scoring in the quarter.
Parkey's third field goal of the day, a 42-yard kick with 9:07 left in the game, extended the lead to the final seven-point margin, 31-24.