By Jeff Shearer
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Auburn blocked a punt for a touchdown to capture momentum, then put away the game with a 96-yard drive that consumed half of the fourth quarter in a 42-27 win Saturday at Texas A&M.
"A very good win for our team. I'm very proud of our staff and players," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "A lot of times it's how you win that's very important."
"I thought that was huge," Malzahn said. "It gave us some momentum, because that first half was extremely challenging."
After coming close to blocking an earlier punt, Ruffin requested another opportunity.
"Coach talks every day about just doing your job, doing what's asked of you and not trying to be a super hero," Ruffin said. "I told Coach Malzahn after the first one, 'I think I can get there. Let me go get it again. I promise you I'll get there.' He put enough confidence in me and said, 'All right, I'm going to give you a chance.' Thankfully, I got it."
The Aggies scored on a long pass, then threatened to pull within one possession, but Auburn's defense stopped Texas A&M at the 4 early in the fourth quarter.
Then came the drive, a 13-play marathon that took 8:17 off the clock and resulted in Eli Stove's 4-yard touchdown run.
"Our defense holding them down there inside the 10-yard line, then our offense going 96 yards, Malzahn said. "I'm very proud of our team."
Johnson rushed for 145 yards on 29 carries, adding 29 receiving yards on 5 catches, including his first career touchdown reception. Johnson has scored 16 touchdowns this season, 15 in the past six games.
"Kerryon Johnson had another big-time game," Malzahn said. "I think he continually shows why he's one of the best running backs in the country, not just our league."
Playing three hours from his home in Stephenville, Texas, Stidham completed 20 of 27 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns.
"I thought our quarterback played extremely well, because they're one of the best teams in the country at rushing the passer," Malzahn said.
Auburn improves to 7-2, 5-1 in the SEC. The Tigers host Georgia next Saturday in the Deep South's oldest rivalry, Auburn's first home game in more than a month.
"We overcame a lot of adversity," Malzahn said. "They're a very talented team. Our team kept dealing with adversity and finding a way to fight through."
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer