First half highlights: Payton Thorne, Tigers are comfortable with Mississippi State

That was a fun first half to watch.

The Auburn Tigers are up 24-3 on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in a game that is refreshing to watch. It has been obvious that there are frustrations surrounding the 0-4 start in SEC play, and the Tigers are taking them out on the Bulldogs.

The star of the first half was quarterback Payton Thorne. Thorne, who averaged 120 yards passing and experienced a season-high output of 102 yards against Power Five opponents this season, has 190 passing yards and three touchdowns through the first half.

He has completed 15 passes to 11 different receivers with Ja'Varrious Johnson leading the way with 59 yards on two catches. All three of his touchdown passes have gone to three unique receivers as well. As a unit, Auburn has gained 301 yards of total offense.

Mississippi State entered the game with a few disadvantages. Quarterback Will Rogers, who has missed the last two games due to a shoulder injury, did not suit up. Bulldogs star running back Woody Marks also failed to dress out for the game. Their absence is felt by the Bulldogs’ offense, as they were only able to gain 123 yards of total offense in the first half. State quarterback Mike Wright passed for 46 yards and rushed for a team-leading 26 yards.

Here is a look at the plays that defined the first half for the Auburn Tigers in their game against Mississippi State at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Hollywood battles through for six

The Tigers’ first possession ended with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Payton Thorne to Shane Hooks to put them up, 7-0 with 11:38 remaining in the first quarter. Auburn pieced together an eight-play drive that covered 75 yards. Thorne completed 4-of-5 passes this drive for 53 yards and a score. He completed four passes to three different receivers: Shane Hooks, Jay Fair, and Caleb Burton.

Keionte Scott plays key role in defenses first drive

Keionte Scott has missed several games due to an ankle injury. Since returning last week against Ole Miss, he has been a vital part of the Tiger defense. He made four total tackles during Auburn’s first drive on defense, including a stop that set Mississippi State up with a long third-down situation. The Bulldogs’ first drive fizzled out and they were forced to kick a field goal to cut Auburn’s lead to 7-3.

Thorne launches another bomb

Watching this play, I along with other Auburn fans asked the same question… “where has this been all season?” On Auburn’s second offensive drive, Thorne delivered a beautiful pass to Ja’Varrius Johnson for a 45-yard score to push Auburn to a 14-3 lead with 4:12 remaining in the opening quarter. Much like the first drive, Thorne completed four passes for 67 yards and added an eight-yard run to complete the five-play, 75-yard drive. The catch was Johnson’s first touchdown of the season.

Alex McPherson extends the lead

After an exciting first two drives for the Tigers, Auburn stalled on its next two. Oscar Chapman booted a 42-yard punt inside the five-yard line on Auburn’s third drive, and Alex McPherson extended Auburn’s lead with 7:18 remaining in the first half by nailing a 39-yard field goal to push the Tigers ahead, 17-3.

Mississippi State lets one slip away

Late in the first half, Mississippi State looked to earn a score to take momentum into the locker room. On 4th and 1 from the Auburn 30-yard line, State quarterback Mike Wright rushed right but slipped two yards behind the line of scrimmage to end the scoring threat.

Give it up for the freshman

Auburn added one final score before the end of the half, which became Thorne’s third touchdown pass of the game. This time, he connected with freshman running back Jeremiah Cobb for a seven-yard touchdown pass with 0:09 remaining in the 2nd quarter. It was Cobb’s first touchdown reception as a Tiger, and his second score overall.

Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire