Auburn handles Samford in Iron Bowl tune-up

Auburn, AL ( – Cameron Artis-Payne ran for 129 yards and a
touchdown on 29 carries as 16th-ranked Auburn posted a 31-7 win over Samford
at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The Tigers overcame a sluggish start and eight penalties to pull away from
the FCS-level Bulldogs and halt a two-game skid as they enter next Saturday’s
Iron Bowl showdown with No. 2 Alabama.

Nick Marshall threw for 171 yards on 11-of-18 passing with one touchdown and
an interception for Auburn (8-3), which also received rushing scores from Quan
Bray and Roc Thomas.

“I am happy to get win number eight,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said. “We
knew they were going to play hard and play their guts out, and they did.”

Michael Eubank completed 15-of-29 throws for 125 yards and one touchdown for
Samford (7-4), but was intercepted twice during a second half in which the
Bulldogs were held scoreless.

“We played a really good team,” said Eubank. “I feel like there are a lot of
plays that we left out there, a lot of things we could have converted on, a
lot of things we could have done better.”

The Tigers appeared to be looking ahead to next week’s rivalry game with the
Crimson Tide early on, as Auburn mustered a paltry 36 yards of offense while
being held scoreless over its first four drives.

Those struggles enabled Samford to grab a 7-0 edge midway through the second
quarter, with Eubank skillfully directing a 7-play, 74-yard series in which
the Arizona State transfer completed all five of his throws and capped the
trek with a 7-yard strike to Tony Philpot.

The touchdown seemed to finally wake up the Tigers, as Marshall hit Sammie
Coates deep for a 49-yard gain on the next snap from scrimmage. Two plays
later, Bray took a jet sweep along the left side 23 yards to the end zone.

Samford was then held without a first down on two straight possessions, and
Auburn put up points on its next two to take a 17-7 lead into the half.

Four straight running plays that totaled 39 yards had Auburn inside the
Bulldogs’ 10-yard line, though Samford was able to limit the damage to a 29-
yard Daniel Carlson field goal that sent the Tigers in front.

A 40-yard connection from Marshall to Bray on Auburn’s subsequent drive had
the Tigers at the Samford 16 with a minute to go in the second quarter.
Shortly afterward, Artis-Payne bounced a shotgun handoff outside and followed
his blocks for a 7-yard touchdown that extended the margin to 10 points.

The Bulldogs had a chance to make it a one-score game after moving deep into
Auburn territory on their initial drive of the second half, but Warren
Handrahan misfired on a 34-yard field goal try to keep it a 17-7 differential.

It was Samford’s last good scoring opportunity of the night, as Auburn’s
defense shut down Eubank and the Bulldogs’ attack the rest of the way and the
Tigers increased their lead on the ensuing drive.

Marshall hit on 3-of-4 attempts in engineering a 10-play, 80-yard sequence he
kept alive with a 27-yard strike to Melvin Ray on third down, then later
completed with a swing pass that Corey Grant took 13 yards into the end zone.

Thomas accounted for Auburn’s final touchdown with a 1-yard run with 8:44
remaining, ending a 65-yard possession in which 11 of the 12 plays came on the

Game Notes

The Tigers totaled 76 yards in penalties … Samford is coached by Pat
Sullivan, who won the 1971 Heisman Trophy as an Auburn quarterback … Tigers
wide receiver D’haquille Williams sat out a second straight game with a knee
injury … The schools have faced one another 28 times but only four since
World War II, with Auburn outscoring the Bulldogs by a 156-30 count in those
games … Samford fell to 2-75-3 all-time against current members of the
Southeastern Conference, including an 0-27-1 mark versus Auburn.