Peyton Barber dives in for Auburn's game-winning touchdown in overtime
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Running back Roc Thomas wasn't on the field when the ball he was in the air, so he did the next best thing.
"I was on the sideline being a cheerleader. If somebody is in, we're cheerleaders on the sidelines."
Thomas certainly cheered when the ball came down in running back Peyton Barber's hands, the 9-yard screen pass that sat up Barber's game-winning 4-yard touchdown and Auburn's 27-20 overtime win over Jacksonville State in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.
"When he caught the ball," Thomas said, "I was like, 'oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.' Then I started jumping up. It was great."
The game story.
Gus Malzahn's take on the win.
Thomas had first-hand experience with a big catch Saturday. He caught a 51-yard touchdown pass from Jeremy Johnson, and had two cathes for 73 yards.
Thomas started the season-opener, but, after an injury knocked him out, it was Barber who led Auburn with 115 yards rushing in the win over Louisville. Barber led Auburn with 125 yards against Jacksonville State.
"It gives me a lot more confidence. We just have to keep moving forward," Barber said.
Coach Gus Malzahn said Barber "willed himself that last time to get in the end zone and he’s getting better each game."
"He's had had two back-to-back weeks and it's all about production. He's protecting the ball. A lot of those were hard yards at the end. You saw him on the flair pass and then we gave it to him the next time when they were all bunched up. He just projected himself in the end zone. He's in a good spot."
That, Barber said, "means a great deal. It means Coach Malzahn has confidence in me to give me the ball."
Barber followed up his 24-carry performance against Louisville with 23 carries against Jacksonville State. Thomas, who was limited to two carries last week because of injuries, rushed eight times for 22 yards. Freshman Kerryon Johnson had two carries for eight yards.
Barber was again the workhorse after carry the ball 10 times for 54 yards last season.
"I'm looking forward to the future," he said. "I feel that I get stronger as the game goes on."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine