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Tigers on the run: Auburn now leads the SEC in rushing

Oct. 13, 2013


Auburn's Corey Grant speeds to another touchdown against Western Carolina (Todd Van Emst photo)

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. - Tre Mason got his 100 yards and scored two touchdowns in the first half and then sat back and watched the show. 

Auburn's 712 yards of total offense in Saturday's 62-3 win over Western Carolina were the most in school history and the ninth most in SEC history. And on a day when freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson was the center of attention, it was the Tigers' running game that piled up 511 yards, the third highest total in school history.

All of that helped Auburn to move to first in the Southeasern Conference in rushing, averaging 287 yards per game. Missouri is second averaging 239.3. The Tigers used homecoming to jump to fifth in the league in total offense.

Mason had easy time of it. He had just six carries. Cameron Artis-Payne gained 133 yards and scored a touchdown on only seven carries, and Auburn's other primary back, Corey Grant, gained 83 yards and scored a touchdown on five carries. 

The Big Three combined for 316 yards, averaging an eye-popping 17.5 yards per carry, before coach Gus Malzahn told them to rest. The scoring was so equally distributed, overall, that eight different players scored Auburn's nine touchdowns. Mason was the only one with two. 

"We challenged each other. Corey did great. Cameron did great," Mason said. 

Things will get a lot tougher when Auburn visits Texas A&M this coming Saturday. 

"I think it's going to be a big challenge. But Coach Malzahn is going to have a game plan for us to win it, and all we've got to do is go out and execute it," said Artis-Payne. 

Mason, Artis-Payne and Grant were not alone Saturday. Former walk-on Chandler Shakespeare had 63 yards, defensive back Jonathan Ford slipped over to offense and gained 45 yards and scored a touchdown on two carries, receiver Ricardo Louis gained 41 yards on two carries. 

"It's really good to get those guys experience because those guys put in hard work all week," Mason said. "It's very rewarding to them, and we're very happy to see them play." 

Mason, Artis-Payne and Grant have all had 100-yard rushing games this season. Quarterback Nick Marshall, who didn't play Saturday because of a sore knee, has one, too. The Tigers have had a player break the 100-yard rushing barrier in five of the first six games. 

"We are a run, play-action team, and any time we run the football effectively, it opens everything else up," Malzahn said. "I thought our line did an outstanding job, and I thought our running backs broke some tackles."

Video: Tre Mason talks up Auburn's running game:

Charles Goldberg writes for Follow him on Twitter: 



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