Auburn had to wait an extra hour for a 42-16 win over Mercer in the 2022 season opener. Officials called for the weather to be delayed at 8:31 p.m. ET and the Tigers led 35-7 at 1:33 of the third quarter. Play resumed at 9:55 with Auburn holding the ball at the 39-yard line.
Tank Bigsby’s nearly 90-minute delay was worth it for fans who stuck to a 39-yard touchdown in Game 1 amid downpour and lightning strikes. Bigsby had his first touchdown on a two-yard drive with 5:04 left in the first half to give the Tigers a 28-0 lead over the Bears.
Bigsby finished for 147 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns. Jarquez Hunter scored Auburn’s first touchdown in the team’s first possession with a 19-yard run. Hunter ended an 11-game 68-yard game with 5:28.
Hunter had a career-high three touchdowns against Mercer. He had three rushing touchdowns last season.
John Samuel-Shenker gave the Tigers a 14-0 lead on TJ Finley’s first touchdown pass of the season. Finley’s touchdown was sparked by a 49-yard run by backup quarterback Robbie Ashford. Ashford’s run was the longest by an Auburn quarterback since John Franklin III’s 80-yard rush against ULM in the 2016 season.
The Tigers (1-0) face San Jose State (1-0) next Saturday in Jordan-Hare. Let’s take a look at some observations from Auburn’s victory over Mercer.
Auburn began looking for a playmaker at wide receiver this season. Ja’Varius Johnson heeded the call to the Bears. He had four catches for 117 yards. His 56-yard catch from Ashford in the third gave Hunter a 3-yard TD at 3:47 of the third. Auburn led 35-7. Shedrick Jackson was the second-leading receiver with four catches for 47 yards.
powerful running game
Auburn controlled both sides of the ball. The offensive line of new starting center Tate Johnson had a profound impact on the game. Auburn had nearly 300 rushing yards. Bigsby is the leading rusher with 147 yards. Ashford finished second with 66 yards, including an exciting 49-yard sprint.
Hunter had 34 yards on eight attempts and three touchdowns.
Finley was the starter and threw a touchdown to Schenk. He finished his day with a 9-14 112-yard pass for a 126.5 QB rating. Finley showed a lot of potential, but he also had two interceptions. Mercer took advantage of the No. 1 pick on his first touchdown late in the first half.
Finley made another interception in the second half. Ashford, meanwhile, completed four of seven attempts for 100 yards with a QB rating of 177. Ashford also had 66 rushing yards. Auburn plays every quarterback and has several games where both signal callers are on the floor. One of the races ended with a long run by Ashford Bisbee. Finley gave the ball to Ashford, who threw it to the running back star.
Stay tuned for the quarterback rotation as the season progresses.