Trotter, Tigers bounce back against Owls

By KALA BOLTON / Staff Writer

AUBURN — The Auburn Tigers were looking for an easy win against Florida Atlantic University Sept. 23, but inexperience showed as the young Auburn squad attempted to find rhythm and consistency following a brutal road loss at Clemson last week.

Former Briarwood Christian quarterback Barrett Trotter led the Tigers (3-1) to a 30-14 win over the Owls (0-3) at Jordan-Hare Stadium in the first ever meeting between the two schools.

“I’m happy to come out with a win, but we didn’t play very well at all,” Trotter said. “We had a lot of small details that made a lot of difference in how many first downs we had and how many scores we had.”

On the first play, Trotter was picked off by Florida Atlantic sophomore Cory Henry, and the Owls capitalized with a 39-yard field goal from junior Vinny Zaccario with 11:36 in the first quarter.

Trotter quickly rebounded, hitting junior Emory Blake and freshman Trovon Reed for 21-yards each, giving the Tigers their first lead of the night with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Blake with 7:30 remaining in the first quarter.

Trotter rushed for 16 yards on back-to-back plays to start the next Auburn drive, and a 41-yard Cody Parkey field goal extended the Tigers lead 10-3. Zaccario nailed a 43-yard field goal for the Owls with 10:31 remaining in the half.

Sophomore linebacker Jake Holland, a Pelham High School graduate, stepped up his game in the second quarter with two tackles, one for a 7-yard loss, and an interception, giving the Tigers the ball at the Florida Atlantic 49-yard line with 1:49 remaining in the first half.

“It was a cover two,” Holland said. “I just ran my assignment, turned around and the ball was there.”

Freshman defensive back Jermaine Whitehead lit a fire under the Tigers as he intercepted a Graham Wilbert pass, returning it 25 yards for a touchdown, giving the Tigers a 17-6 lead to start the second half.

With momentum on its side, Auburn extended its lead 24-6 on the following drive on as junior Onterio McCalebb reeled in a screen pass from Trotter, taking the ball 51 yards into the endzone. Parkey scored the final points for the Tigers, hitting two field goals to close out the third quarter, bringing the Tigers up 30-6.

A lackluster fourth quarter culminated with Alfred Morris hauling in a 12-yard pass from Wilbert with 5:36 remaining in play.

“I felt our defense was on point today,” Holland said. “We were all on the same page and were hitting with intensity. I think the defense played a great game and we turned it on in the second half.”
Trotter was 16-for-28 passing with one interception and two touchdown, totaling 178 yards. He carried the ball seven times for 25 yards.

Sophomore Michael Dyer led the team rushing, totaling 68 yards on 14 carries. Freshman Kiehl Frazier had three carries for 30 yards.  Blake led the team with 78 yards and one touchdown on five receptions.

“We’re about to hit this stretch against some strong SEC teams,” said Holland, who had three tackles and one interception on the night. “I’m feeling good about it and the rest of the guys on the team are. I think everything is going to work out just right.”