Auburn turned to Boobee.
JaTarvious Whitlow rushed nine times on a game-breaking 11-play scoring drive late in the third quarter, and then scored the game’s separation score, helping No. 10 Auburn hold on to beat Tulane 24-6 on Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn led by just one score at halftime and then in the third, struggling in the run game and relying on a freshman quarterback’s arm, when Whitlow took over the game on that pivotal series.
Auburn marched 82 yards on the drive with Whitlow rushing for 54 yards on the series and racing in a 14-yard touchdown run to cap it and put Auburn up 21-6 with 1:51 left in the third.
The Tigers survived, after an emotional win against Oregon in the opener and against a Tulane team that entered having won six of its last seven dating back to last season.
Whitlow finished with 96 yards on 23 carries with that third-quarter touchdown. He rolled up 88 second-half yards as Auburn pulled away.
“He’s a tough guy,” Auburn quarterback Bo Nix said of Whitlow, and his performance on that game-changing drive. “He enjoys running the ball, and he’s relentless, so he’s going to do whatever he can to make it all the way through the drive and finish with a touchdown.”
He did that, and Auburn moved to 2-0.
Auburn tallied just 20 first-half rushing yards on 13 carries in the first two quarters, as Nix was tasked with firing 29 first-half passes and the Tigers moved away from the running game.
As head coach Gus Malzahn said postgame, the Tigers don’t want to be that one-dimensional.
But late in the third, Whitlow, the redshirt sophomore from LaFayette who goes by his nickname, showed his talent, sparking the Auburn running game and pushing the Tigers on to victory. He scored that 14-yard touchdown on a play that started with a direct snap to him out of the Wildcat formation, before he raced right and down the sideline around Green Wave defenders for the score.
“Coach Malzahn made a lot of great changes and it showed on that drive,” Auburn senior right tackle Jack Driscoll said. “Boobee, we just said, ‘Hey, we’ve got you, but you’ve got to run hard.’ And he did.
“It was a great drive. We need more like that, though, in the second half. We can’t just wait until the second half to turn it on.”
Auburn finished with 379, while the Tigers’ defense held the Green Wave to 223 yards.
Nix finished 19-of-37 for 207 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions.
Whitlow fumbled three times, and lost two — something Malzahn said he wants corrected — but his play proved critical in the second half as Auburn pulled away.
“We found plays that worked at halftime, and we blocked them up, and Boobee did a good job running the ball — and Coach Malzahn knew what to call,” Driscoll said.
In the fourth, a 24-yard run by Whitlow down to the Tulane 8-yard line helped set up Anders Carlson’s field goal which gave the game its final score.
In the first half, Nix hit Will Hastings for a 31-yard touchdown in the second quarter to put the Tigers up 7-3 after giving up an early lead. That play helped sparked Auburn’s offense to life. Receiver Eli Stove ran in a four-yard touchdown later in the second to help get Auburn up a score at 14-6 by the half.
But the running game still struggled — until Whitlow took over on that pivotal series in the third.
That drive started on an interception by Jeremiah Dinson at the Auburn 18-yard line.
Whitlow helped carry the load on that drive, with Nix hitting John Samuel Shenker for a big third-down conversion to keep the series alive near midfield.
From the Tulane 32-yard line, Whitlow rushed for gains of nine yards, three yards and six yards on consecutive carries, before racing in his touchdown from 14 yards out.