AUBURN, Ala. -- Eleventh-ranked Auburn flexed its muscles early and often against overmatched Florida Atlantic on Saturday night. The Tigers scored touchdowns the first three times they touched the ball and put it on cruise control in dismantling Florida Atlantic 45-10 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Tre Mason scored on a 8-yard run on the first series, Corey Grant ran 43 yards for a touchdown one play after a Owls turnover and Nick Marshall scored on a 10-yard run to help Auburn build a 21-0 lead eight minutes into the game. Auburn led 38-7 at halftime. The Tigers improved their record to 7-1, a stark contrast to last year's 3-9 season that resulted in the firing of coach Gene Chizik. Florida Atlantic, in its first year in Conference USA, fell to 2-6. Auburn backup quarterback Jeremy Johnson threw touchdown passes of 36 and 67 yards to Sammie Coates, and four other Tigers rushed for one touchdown each as Auburn racked up more than 600 yards for the third straight week, finishing with 628. Auburn, which entered the game ranked eighth nationally in rushing averaging 300.1 yards a game, improved on that number with 422 against the Owls. Coming off an upset 45-41 win over then-No. 7 Texas A&M last week, Auburn finished its non-conference schedule. It will now focus on SEC play the rest of the year, starting with consecutive road trips to Arkansas and Tennessee before finishing with home games against rival Georgia and top-ranked Alabama. Auburn scored the first three times it touched the ball in building a 38-7 halftime lead. The Tigers didn't waste any time getting rolling, taking the game's opening drive 78 yards in six plays for a score barely two minutes in. Auburn capped the series with an 8-yard Mason touchdown run. Nick Marshall's 46-yard burst up the middle on a quarterback draw keyed the possession. A minute and half later, Auburn defensive end Dee Ford popped the ball loose from FAU running back Jonathan Wallace and Tigers defensive back Jermaine Whitehead recovered and returned 11 yards to the 43. One play later, Grant raced around right end, scoring untouched down the right sideline, pushing Auburn up 14-0 with only 3:36 elapsed off the clock. Florida Atlantic picked up a first down on the ensuing series on Jacquez Johnson's 2-yard sneak on third-and-1, but the Owls were to forced to punt three plays later. FAU's Sean Kelly boomed a 63-yarder that Auburn's Chris Davis caught at the 2 with his momentum carrying him into the end zone. He started to his right but then found a crease on the left side and slid through the opening and down the sideline 72 yards to the FAU 28. Four plays later, Marshall scored untouched on a 10-yard run to the left side, increasing the lead to 21-0 with 6:54 still left in the first quarter. The Tigers padded the margin to 28-0 early in the second quarter when Johnson, on his first play after entering the game, fired a 36-yard TD strike to Coates. Parkey connected on a 43-yard field goal and Johnson and Coates hooked up on a 67-yard TD bomb to make it 38-0 with 3:10 to go before intermission. FAU struck quickly on the ensuing series when Johnson scored on a 29-yard run off the left side with 2:13 left in the half, completing a three-play, 67-yard drive that took just 47 seconds. NOTES: Florida Atlantic linebacker Freedom Whitfield was taken to East Alabama Medical Center after an injury late in the first quarter. Whitfield was hurt making a tackle headfirst into the chest of Tigers punt returner Chris Davis. Whitfield gave a thumbs-up sign as he was carted off the field. The extent of his injury was not known yet. ... The 72-punt return by Davis was Auburn's longest since 1996 when Robert Baker returned one 79 against South Carolina. ... Auburn won its 300th game in history -- and its sixth in nine games this year -- when scoring 30 or more points, including its last 83 straight. The Tigers are 300-4 in games they score 30. ... Auburn recognized its 1983 SEC Champions, led by then sophomore Bo Jackson, the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner, on their 30th anniversary at the game. The team, Pat Dye's third at Auburn, went 11-1 and finished third in the Associated Press poll and was declared national champions by the New York Times.
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