By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN — Four plays, 96 yards, 34 seconds. An #AuburnFast touchdown drive that jumpstarted the Tigers en route to a 42-14 win Saturday against Louisiana Monroe.
After a ULM punt pinned Auburn at its 4-yard-line with 2:01 remaining in the first half, Kerryon Johnson gained 15 yards to AU’s 19.
Those three plays served as the opening act for the headliner, Stidham’s 50-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Slayton.
Just like that, a 7-7 game swung in Auburn’s favor for good.
“We wanted to put the ball in the end zone before the half,” said Stidham, who completed 18 of 24 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns. “It was a little bit of our two-minute drill. Darius and Will did a great job of getting open and the offensive line did a great job protecting, and I was just trying to get the ball to those guys.”
For Slayton, it was his fourth straight game with a TD catch, No. 5 on the season.
“They were kind of playing me slow so I felt like I could get by them,” Slayton said. “Like always, Jarrett was able to get me a good ball, and I was able to go up and get it.
“I think it gave us some momentum. It gave us some rhythm. It even helps get our running game going when our offense is flowing like that.”
That Slayton was open came as no surprise to his quarterback.
“Darius is really fast,” said Stidham. “He can usually run by people. I was just trying to give him a shot. Throw it up to him, let him go high point it and make a catch.
Johnson’s drive-opening jaunt, part of a 22-carry, 137-yard outing, gave Auburn breathing room in which to work.
“That was huge, to get some points going into halftime,” Johnson said. “In recent games, we’ve gotten points going into halftime, and that’s great, especially when you don’t get the ball coming out of halftime, to go in with something to feed off of, a little energy, a little boost, and come out on top after the half. That’s huge for us.”
Auburn added to that momentum in the second half, scoring three touchdowns to extend its lead to 35-7 before ULM scored again.
Now comes the Iron Bowl, with the SEC Western division title and a trip to Atlanta on the line.
“I’m excited,” Stidham said. “This is why you play here at Auburn, for games like this against a team like Alabama. They’re a very good team and we’re going to have to play our best ball to beat them. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
“It’s going to be a crazy atmosphere,” said Johnson, who logged his seventh 100-yard rushing game of the season and has scored 18 touchdowns. “This should be one for the ages. We’ve got to protect the ball, we’ve got to limit our penalties, we’ve got to execute, and I’m confident we’ll come out on top if we do that.”