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'Really cool moment' highlights Auburn's offensive explosion
Ryan Davis' 62-yard reverse touchdown pass
Oct. 22, 2017

By Jeff Shearer
AuburnTigers.com

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - As knockout punches go, Ryan Davis' 62-yard reverse touchdown pass to Darius Slayton was sudden and surprising.

A high school quarterback, Auburn's leading receiver took a pitch from Kerryon Johnson and while running to his right, fired an on-target pass that traveled 40 yards, hitting Slayton in stride.

"We just felt it was a good time to run it," said Davis, whose pass nearly matched his receiving yardage (63 on eight catches). The trick play, which gave Auburn a 38-6 lead with 4:13 remaining in the third quarter, came right after Jeff Holland forced a fumble that Deshaun Davis recovered at Auburn's 38-yard line.

"We just felt it was a good time to run it," said Davis of the longest touchdown pass by a non-quarterback in Auburn records. "They were comfortable with me throwing the ball since I've been playing quarterback since I was in high school. It just came second nature and it felt good to have my first collegiate touchdown."

It was the longest catch of Slayton's career, part of a career-high 146 receiving yards on four catches.

"We've been repping that play for a while now," Slayton said. "We were both hoping we were going to get a chance to call it in the game. I saw him roll out like he always does. He dropped a dime and I was able to catch it and score, so it was a really cool moment for me and him."

Slayton's touchdown catch

 

 

Auburn's offense produced 626 yards, No. 6 all-time for the Tigers in SEC play. Jarrett Stidham accounted for 267 yards, including 49 on four rushes.

"That's how it played out," said Stidham, who said his increased rushing workload was unscripted. "I was just trying to make plays. The offensive line, they were doing a great job all night getting some movement at the point of attack."

Stidham scored a 15-yard touchdown on Auburn's opening drive.

"I kind of shocked myself, to be honest. I wasn't really expecting to do that," Stidham said. "I just saw an open lane, tried to make a play and keep the chains moving."

For the first time in nearly a year, Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson scored in the same game. Johnson scored his 14th touchdown of the season in the second quarter, No. 13 in five games.

Pettway produced a hat trick in the third quarter, scoring touchdowns of 2, 38 and 11 yards.

"It was good to get Pettway back out there," Malzahn said. "You can tell he's getting closer to 100 percent, and really ran hard. KJ had another good game, too."

Auburn's dynamic duo combined for 163 rushing yards on 32 carries with four touchdowns.

With the game in hand, freshman quarterback Malik Willis took over in the fourth quarter, racing 48 yards on his first keeper, and throwing his first touchdown pass, a 4-yarder to Devan Barrett.

"Being able to give him those quality game reps, just to be able to run the offense," Malzahn said. "You can see he brings a different dimension on the read zone. I thought he did a good job, too."

After posting its fifth 500-yard output of the season, Auburn's offense will recharge before making the season's final road trip to Texas A&M, the start of what the Tigers hope will be a November to remember.

"This by week comes at a great time for us," Stidham said. "It gives us some time to heal up a little bit as a team and to reflect on the first eight games, get ready for A&M and get ready for this final stretch."

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:

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