By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - Kamryn Pettway unveiled two new aspects of his arsenal - running out of the wildcat formation and pass-catching skills - in Auburn's 24-10 Homecoming win over Mercer Saturday.
"I had to do what I had to do to help my team," Pettway said. "They came to fight, we had to fight back."
Pettway gained 128 yards on 34 carries, scoring all three of Auburn's touchdowns, a 4-yarder in the first quarter, a 9-yarder in the third, and another 4-yarder in the fourth, the final two scores coming after taking the snap.
"I'm a strong guy," Pettway said of his robust workload. "I'm not going to just give in."
Not only does the direct snap allow Auburn to insert an extra blocker, it also eliminates the need for a handoff.
"I feel comfortable in the Wildcat," said Pettway, who also scored three touchdowns last year against Mississippi State. "I ran in it high school, so there's nothing to it."
Kerryon Johnson usually runs Auburn's wildcat formation. With Johnson missing two games while recovering from a leg injury, Pettway began practicing the formation this week.
"I like that play a lot," he said, "because I get to run in the wildcat."
Pettway, the SEC's leading rusher in yards per game in 2016, exceeded his career receiving totals by making three receptions for 32 yards. In 2016, he had two catches for 14 yards.
"I think that helped the team a lot," Pettway said.
In the second quarter, Pettway made a 16-yard reception, making a defender miss after the catch, on a drive that led to a Daniel Carlson field goal.
"Two-minute drive, kind of cut back, so I think I did pretty good with that today," said Pettway, who has logged eight 100-yard rushing games in his career.
In the fourth quarter, Pettway moved the chains with a 6-yard catch on third-and-3, catching another pass on a drive that ended with a missed field goal.
"He did really good," quarterback Jarrett Stidham said. "We always communicate in the backfield. If it is third-and-10, they drop eight, the checkdown usually is going to be open. He was always alert for that."
Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey indicated running backs would play a larger role in the passing game.
Pettway's production, as a receiver, running back, and "Bubbacat" quarterback impressed Auburn coach Gus Malzahn.
"He bounced that one for a touchdown," Malzahn said. "He made about four guys miss on the other. That last one he kind of willed himself in. A new little wrinkle that Chip's done in the past."
-- Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) September 17, 2017
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer