Johnson, Auburn roll past Western Carolina 62-3Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, left, talks with Western Carolina head coach Mark Speir prior to the start of an NCAA college football game in Auburn, Ala., Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Freshman Jeremy Johnson passed for 201 yards and four touchdowns in his college debut and Auburn racked up a school-record 712 total yards in a 62-3 rout of Western Carolina on Saturday.
Johnson was announced as the starter Friday evening for the Tigers (5-1) with Nick Marshall not fully recovered from a knee injury. He picked apart the Football Championship Subdivision Catamounts (1-6) to complete 17 of 21 passes before leaving midway through the third quarter.
Cameron-Artis Payne ran for 133 yards on seven carries, including a 59-yard run and a 25-yard touchdown on one drive in the third quarter. Tre Mason gained 100 yards on six carries with first-half touchdowns of 20 and 53 yards.
Auburn held Western Carolina, which has lost 32 in a row to FBS and FCS teams, to 173 total yards.
The Tigers' old record of 695 yards came against Southwestern Louisiana in 1985.
Auburn ran for 511 yards on 43 carries and had 30 first downs to six for Western Carolina.
Johnson's debut provided the only drama in a game when Auburn had four touchdowns just over a minute into the second quarter.
A four-star recruit and Alabama's Mr. Football, the 6-foot-5, 219-pounder had been a candidate for a redshirt year before getting called into action over Jonathan Wallace, who started the last four games of 2012.
It was a good game to get his feet wet against a badly overmatched opponent. Now, the question facing the Tigers is will Marshall be able to play at No. 9 Texas A&M?
Johnson threw three touchdown passes to lead Auburn to a 42-3 halftime lead en route to the Tigers' most points since a 62-24 victory over Tennessee-Chattanooga in 2010.
Johnson rolled right and threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jay Prosch, threw a deep ball on the money for a 46-yard touchdown to Ricardo Louis and hit fellow freshman Tony Stevens for a 22-yarder before the half.
He added a 3-yarder to Quan Bray in the third quarter and ran for 26 yards on three carries. Corey Grant also gained 83 yards on five runs.
Richard Sigmon got a 49-yard field goal in the first quarter for Western Carolina, which held onto the ball for six minutes, 23 seconds on the drive to keep Auburn's offense off the field.
Starter Troy Mitchell completed 3 of 6 passes for 73 yards and was intercepted once. Backup Eddie Sullivan played much of the game and was 3-of-11 passing for 73 yards. Both added 15 rushing yards apiece despite being sacked a combined four times.