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Monday, Dec 11, 2023 | Latest Print Edition

Auburn shows off balanced offense in homecoming win over Samford

Payton Thorne throws a screen pass against Samford
Payton Thorne throws a screen pass against Samford

Auburn picked up its 32nd straight homecoming victory on Saturday, defeating the Samford Bulldogs 45-13. The win marks the Tigers' second 3-0 start to the season since 2015. 

“To get another win, they’re always sweet,” said head coach Hugh Freeze. “And I thought there were some really good things tonight. Congratulations to our kids and staff for becoming 2-0 at Jordan Hare and 3-0 on the season.”

After struggling to find yardage offensively in their hard-fought win over Cal and passing for just 203 yards in their season opener against UMass, the Tigers put together a complete offensive performance against the Bulldogs. Auburn totaled 222 rushing yards and 340 passing yards for a combined 562 yards. 

Auburn’s 222 rushing yards against Samford nearly totaled the 230 total offensive yards it put up against Cal in its second game of the season. Quarterback Payton Thorne led the Tigers in rushing yards against the Bulldogs, totaling 123 yards and two touchdowns. Thorne managed 22 rushing yards in his performance against Cal. 

“I’ve never really had an offense where the quarterback was involved in the run game,” Thorne said. “It was fun tonight to get to do that.”

Thorne also led the Tigers in the pocket, claiming 282 of Auburn’s 340 passing yards with one touchdown. Thorne’s 282 yards and the team’s 340 marked the most passing yards for the Tigers this season, surpassing 203 passing yards against UMass and 94 against Cal. 

Against Cal, the Tigers threw the ball only 17 times. In their homecoming victory over Samford, however, the Tigers threw 36 total passes — 25 of those in the first half. 

“I just wanted to be balanced and really wanted to try to get us some confidence,” Freeze said. “We’re gonna have to throw the football some. We’re learning the system more and more and feeling more comfortable in it.”

Auburn will look to continue to show off its balanced offense as it travels to College Station, Texas next Saturday to open SEC play against Texas A&M. Kickoff is at 11 a.m. CST and will be televised on ESPN. 

Grace Heim | Sports Reporter

Grace Heim is a junior from Enterprise, Alabama, majoring in English Literature. She started with The Plainsman in January 2023.

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