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Kerryon Johnson, Kamryn Pettway give Auburn 1-2 punch
Kerryon Johnson jumps over everybody in the final few yards on the way to his 47-yard touchdown run
Sept. 11, 2016

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. -- Kamryn Pettway is the power guy. Kerryon Johnson is the fast featured running back.

You know, like maybe Thunder and Lightning?

"If that's Thunder, that's a fast Thunder," said Johnson "He had more yards than me and broke three really long runs. He was phenomenal. That's just what he can do. He does that in practice every day."

Johnson and Pettway combined for a flashy 276 rushing yards in Auburn's 51-14 win over Arkansas State on Saturday night. That should give the Tigers momentum heading to their SEC opener against Texas A&M this Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"That could be," said coach Gus Malzahn, "a good 1-2 punch for us."

Johnson, the starter, and Pettway, the backup who didn't get a carry in the season opener, broke up their yards this way: Pettway had 152 yards on 15 carries; Johnson went for 124 and two touchdowns on 18 carries.

"I needed this. It gave me a lot of confidence," Pettway said. "I was excited just to run the ball again."

Pettway was an H-back who didn't get a carry last season. He didn't in the season-opening loss to Clemson, either. But he went about his business and the coaches were impressed.

"He told me he's going to reward me," Pettway said.

The quarterbacks were running when Johnson and Pettway were taking a breather. John Franklin III rushed for 70 yards on only four carries and Sean White went for 60 yards on 10 carries. Throw in some passing and Auburn finished with 706 yards of total offense, just the second time the Tigers have broken the 700-yard barrier in their history.

Malzahn said Auburn has to run for his offense to be effective. Johnson and Pettway were happy to oblige.

"K.J. has got some unique abilities," Malzahn said. "He can do some things that kind of wow you at times. That was really impressive."

Like when he took a pitch from a falling-down White, saw danger ahead, reversed his field and scored on a 47-yard touchdown run.

"He made something out of nothing on that one," Malzahn said.

Johnson was ready for anything.

"First of all, Sean did a great job of getting it off," he said.

Then Johnson said he saw a bunch of big guys moving in. He wisely came up with this conclusion:

"I'm not running into these guys, so I just decided to reverse fields."

Pettway broke some runs, too.

"He's a load," Malzahn said. "He and K.J. are a very good changeup. He showed some speed there, too. The more he carries the ball, the more comfortable he gets."

"Pettway," White said, "is bigger and is probably a little better running people over, and Kerryon is probably a little bit better on the outside. But they both can do both, and that's huge for versatility. That helps a lot."

"He did awesome," Johnson said. " I always knew he could do this. He just had to get chance. He got his chance, he seized it and had a great game."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:

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