Auburn Holds Off Big Underdog San Jose State, 24-16

San Jose St Auburn Football

Auburn running back Jarquez Hunter (27) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against San Jose State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

T.J. Finley, Jarquez Hunter and Tank Bigsby rushed for touchdowns and Auburn held on to beat San Jose State 24-16.

The Tigers scored three times in the second half after the Spartans took a 10-7 lead into halftime. Auburn struggled to hold off the more than three-touchdown underdogs, who added a late field goal to stay alive.

The Tigers couldn’t feel at all comfortable until Finley barreled in for a 4-yard touchdown and a 24-13 lead early in the fourth. He set it up with a 24-yard pass to Ja’Varrius Johnson. But Auburn’s platooning of quarterbacks Finley and Robby Ashford continued to produce inconsistent results — and an interception apiece.

Finley completed 13 of 20 passes for 167 yards. Ashford’s three atttempts netted only a 1-yard completion but he did run for a 30-yard gain and 61 yards.

San Jose State’s Chevan Cordeiro was 24-of-40 passing for 275 yards and set up a field goal in the closing minutes. Charles Ross caught five passes for 89 yards.

Auburn’s first two touchdown drives were kept alive by fourth-down conversions, including one where Finley salvaged a botched snap. He dropped the ball, picked it up and hit Bigsby in the flat for an 11-yarder. Bigsby then plunged into the end zone for a 1-yard score early in the third quarter.

Spartans coach Brent Brennan was trying to pull off another SEC upset. San Jose State beat Arkansas 31-24 in 2019 in his only other attempt. San Jose State went into the locker room with a halftime lead thanks to Kairee Robinson’s 1-yard touchdown in the final minute.

Hunter had scored on a 7-yarder for Auburn.

Auburn didn’t seem to resolve the quarterback situation with much tougher opponents looming, with Ashford serving mostly as the runner and Finley the passer. But the defense did hold off San Jose State until the offense got going some in the second half.

Auburn kicker Anders Carlson moved past Wes Byrum into second place on Auburn’s scoring charts, with 364. His older brother, Daniel, holds the record with 480.

Auburn hosts Penn State next Saturday in its first major test.

(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

 

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