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Auburn's playmakers run over South Carolina
Oct. 26, 2014

Cameron Artis-Payne salutes the Auburn crowd after his touchdown as Melvin Ray comes in with congratulations

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Cameron Artis-Payne pounded another team, this time with 167 rushing yards and a touchdown on 25 carries.

But the running back wasn't alone in a ping pong match disguised as Saturday night's Auburn-South Carolina football game. Auburn beat the Gamecocks 42-35 by using Artis-Payne's big game, watched as quarterback Nick Marshall accounted for four touchdowns and saw a tight end catch a touchdown pass after not throwing the ball to him in the previous six games.

Artis-Payne led Auburn in rushing to run his season total to 831 yards, or 138 yards ahead of Tre Mason's 2013 pace. Receiver Ricardo Louis had 102 rushing yards on just three carries and Marshall rushed for 89 yards and three scores. Roc Thomas and Corey Grant combined for 37 more yards.

There were many choices on this Saturday night.

"It's great for the team, but it's not about helping me just based on the fact we've got a lot of different guys who bring a lot of different things to the table," Artis-Payne said. "We've got a lot of great runners, and when they have the ball in their hands, you're looking at a guy like Ricardo, who is a receiver and is a great runner, you've got everybody to help."

"We feel great," Marshall said, "because we're giving all our playmakers a chance to make plays."

Auburn finished with 551 yards, 395 of which came on the ground, and averaged 8.9 yards per snap. The Tigers' best two games offensively have been against SEC teams: LSU and South Carolina, for a total of 1,117 yards and a combined 83 points. But it was the previous game that Auburn was trying to erase, a loss at Mississippi State.

"The bye week was big for us," Artis-Payne said. "We got to sit back and evaluate ourselves and see the things that work and the things we needed to work on. We went back and broke it down to the basic elements of our offense and worked on those things."

It was a bounce-back performance after the Tigers.

"We were back to playing Auburn football," Marshall said. "It felt like last year, but that was last year. I'm just worrying about me and my teammates focusing on this year."

No. 5 Auburn improved to 6-1 as it moves to a likely Top 10 game at Ole Miss next Saturday. Artis-Payne said Auburn showed moxie against South Carolina after trailing into the third quarter, and not taking the lead for good until the fourth quarter.

“We found a way to win games late last year and we still feel that same way about this team," Artis-Payne said. "We feel like if it's tight in the fourth quarter we will find a way to win."

Auburn needed all of the offense, including Brandon Fulse's first touchdown catch, because South Carolina was determined to use every opportunity to stay in the game. It made 5-of-6 fourth-down tries and recovered an onsides kick.

Not to worry. "I had my trust in my defense. I knew at the end of the game we'd get a stop," Marshall said.

Sure enough, Jonathan Jones intercepted South Carolina's final pass, on the last play of the game, in the end zone.

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



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