AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Jarrett Stidham threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns and No. 10 Auburn beat Southern Miss 24-13 on Saturday night in a game disrupted for nearly three hours by lightning.
Playing behind a shuffled offensive line, Stidham completed 19 of 33 attempts, including touchdowns of 46 yards to Seth Williams and 2 yards to Chandler Cox, while enduring three sacks.
The Tigers (4-1) had built a 14-3 lead in the first half before the game was delayed for two hours, 44 minutes at the 4:27 mark of the second quarter as lightning forced players and fans to take shelter.
Williams finished with two receptions for 60 yards, including the freshman’s first career score. Darius Slayton led Auburn with five catches for 91 yards.
“The big thing is consistency,” said Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn. “We did hit a couple big plays. We talked about the need for more explosive plays . but it’s just the overall consistency.”
Stidham was forced to work behind a shuffling offensive line. Freshman Nick Brahms made his second straight start at center only to be replaced by Kaleb Kim, who started the team’s first three games. Both of Auburn’s starting tackles were also helped to the locker room in the second half. Left tackle Prince Tega Wanogho was replaced by junior Bailey Sharp, and right tackle Jack Driscoll by freshman Calvin Ashley.
The Tigers’ ground game produced just 96 yards as Auburn failed to break the 100-yard mark in back-to-back games for the first time since 2012. JaTarvious Whitlow left the game with a shoulder injury before the delay and returned without pads. Junior Kam Martin led the Tigers with 90 yards on 24 carries.
“Anytime you can run the football, it really helps everything else,” Malzahn said. “We had trouble running tonight . it got ugly with our protection when they knew we were passing the football.”
Entering the game as the No. 8 passing offense in the nation, Southern Miss (2-2) relied heavily on sophomore quarterback Jack Abraham, who completed 30 of 44 passes for 215 yards, a score and two interceptions. Auburn limited the Golden Eagles to 45 yards on the ground.
Southern Miss held Auburn to its lowest yards per rush average (2.7) since Week 2 of last season. The team came in with two sacks before tallying three Saturday.
Auburn was flagged nine times for 78 yards after leading the conference in penalty yardage entering the game.
Auburn is at No. 23 Mississippi State next Saturday.
Southern Miss has a bye week before playing at North Texas on Oct. 13.
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