Auburn wins 2nd in a row ahead of Arkansas trip

Auburn running back Jarquez Hunter (27) celebrates a touchdown against Vanderbilt in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jarquez Hunter ran for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first quarter, and Auburn never trailed Saturday in beating Vanderbilt 31-15 for the Tigers' second straight victory.

Auburn (5-4, 2-4 SEC) now has strung together consecutive league wins after snapping a four-game skid overall.

Hunter finished with a career-high 183 yards rushing on 19 carries.

Payton Thorne threw for 194 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 53-yarder to Rivaldo Fairweather. 

Auburn outgained Vandy 424-266, and the Tigers also had 5 sacks and Nehemiah Pritchett's interception with 1:50 left sealed the win.

With Arkansas beating Florida in overtime earlier Saturday, Vanderbilt (2-8, 0-6) now is the SEC's lone winless team in league play. The Commodores must try to win on the road to avoid being shutout in the SEC, with this their last home game as Vanderbilt continues its first major renovation since 1981.

Hunter put Auburn ahead to stay on the Tigers' second play from scrimmage. He ran up the middle to the left sideline for a 67-yard touchdown. 

He capped Auburn's third drive with a 56-yarder, giving him 121 yards on his first 3 rushes and a 14-0 lead after the first quarter.

Bryce Cowan intercepted a Thorne pass and had to run only 4 yards for Vanderbilt's first touchdown early in the second quarter. The Commodores now have 11 interceptions this season after coming into this game tied with Auburn for most in the SEC.

Held to 93 yards in the first half, Vanderbilt tried to rally in the third down 31-7. Ken Seals threw a 30-yard TD pass to Junior Sherill, and they converted the 2-point run to pull within 31-15. 

Vandy had first-and-goal at the Auburn 10 when Marcus Harris and Cam Riley sacked Seals for an 11-yard loss.

Seals' final throw into the end zone on fourth-and-14 nearly went over the wall into the construction zone as the Commodores turned the ball over on downs.

The Tigers showed a quick-strike ability on each of their first three TD drives. It helped with Hunter's two long TD runs, but the only scoring drive that used up more than 79 seconds came in the third quarter. 

The Tigers used up 2:13 of the clock over seven plays and 64 yards before Thorne's second TD pass, a 5-yarder to Jeremiah Cobb for a 31-7 lead.