Jeremy Johnson, No. 18 Auburn overpower Alabama A&M 55-0
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Jeremy Johnson's career at Auburn has been tumultuous. So to be able to start the final home game of his college career, and to do well in it, was a storybook ending. One of the most memorable moments for Johnson, though, wasn't during the game.
He's led the team out of the tunnel each game this season, and it was especially emotional Saturday night.
''After all that I've been through, I still love being around this team,'' Johnson said. ''That's the most important thing for me, my teammates. The other stuff doesn't even matter.''
Johnson accounted for three touchdowns, and No. 18 Auburn made the most of its final tuneup before the Iron Bowl against No. 1 Alabama with a 55-0 victory over FCS opponent Alabama A&M on Saturday night.
Starting in place of the injured Sean White, Johnson was 14 of 19 for 147 yards and a touchdown and rushed for two more. It was Johnson's first start of the season and the first game he received substantial playing time in since the opener against Clemson, and he led the charge for a wire-to-wire win on Senior Day.
Johnson was the starting quarterback in 2015, but poor performances caused him to lose his job to White, so to see him cap his career on a high note was good for Auburn coach Gus Malzahn to see.
''I think everyone's happy for him, I know everybody in that locker room's happy for him,'' Malzahn said. ''It was a good night.''
Kerryon Johnson ran for 108 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries before being lifted for freshman Kam Martin at halftime. Kerryon still wasn't 100 percent healthy from his lingering ankle issue that has hampered him since he suffered it against Mississippi State last month, but Malzahn said he's getting close.
He wasn't the only Tiger on the mend Saturday.
Running back Kamryn Pettway, who entered the week atop the SEC leaderboard in rushing, missed his second consecutive game with a left leg injury. Among the other Auburn players to sit out the final home game of the season were running back Stanton Truitt, H-back Chandler Cox and cornerback Carlton Davis.
Auburn (8-3, No. 15 CFP) outgained Alabama A&M (4-7) 598-130, and had its first shutout since the first game of the 2008 season.
''I think that was one of (the defense's) goals coming in, to get a shutout,'' Malzahn said. ''It's so hard to get a shutout, and our defense has played excellent all year…any time you get a shutout, it's something special.''
Malzahn let Johnson orchestrate the offense while he was in during the first half, and he filled in well for White. The Auburn defense let out its frustration from last week's loss on the Bulldogs, who didn't eclipse 100 total yards until late in the third quarter.
''We got beat by a better team, I can tell you that for sure,'' Alabama A&M coach James Spady said.
John Franklin III ran for 81 yards and a touchdown on four carries in mop-up duty for Johnson, and Martin finished as the leading rusher with 176 yards and a pair of touchdowns – all in the second half – thanks to a few long runs.
De'Angelo Ballard was 15 of 39 for 103 yards for the Bulldogs.
No. 18 Auburn likely won't see a huge shift in its place in the polls, but the Tigers could move up a few spots based on the results of some other games.
With his 176 rushing yards, Kam Martin becomes the 10th player under Gus Malzahn to rush for 100-plus yards in a game. Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson joined that club earlier this year.
Auburn gets to rest some of its players that will be key in next week's regular-season finale while picking up its eighth win of the season.
Alabama A&M ends the year on a sour note, but the Bulldogs showed some fight against an SEC powerhouse.
Auburn travels to Tuscaloosa next week for the Iron Bowl against No. 1 Alabama.
Alabama A&M has wrapped up the season.
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