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Auburn defense makes it rain turnovers in rout of Samford

Christian Tutt was given a choice.

Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele told his starters at halftime, up 31-0, that they didn’t have to play the second half against FCS opponent Samford if they didn’t want to.

“I told him I wanted to go back in for at least three plays,” Tutt said. “That third play, I got the pick. I just got it back.”

Christian Tutt (6) picks up a fumble in the first half of Auburn vs. Samford
Christian Tutt (6) picks up a fumble in the first half of Auburn vs. Samford (Robin Conn /

After dropping what probably would have been a pick-six in the first half, Tutt redeemed himself with his second interception in three games three plays into the third quarter of No. 15 Auburn’s shutout of the Bulldogs, 52-0. He promptly proceeded to boast on the bench for the remainder of the day.

“[Tutt] was bragging on the sideline like, ‘I got one,’” cornerback Roger McCreary said.

Tutt wasn’t the only Tiger with a forced turnover to his name as they swiped four takeaways Saturday. In addition to Tutt’s third-quarter pick, first-time defensive tackle starter Daquan Newkirk popped the ball free on a fourth-and-4 on Samford’s opening drive, and Tutt recovered the loose pigskin; safety Jeremiah Dinson flew sideline to sideline to grab his second interception of the season later in the first half; and linebacker Zakoby McClain forced the third fumble of his career in the second quarter to set Auburn up in the red zone.

Rain began to fall before kickoff, then Jordan-Hare was downright soaked in the second quarter. That made things tougher for Samford’s offense, while Auburn’s defense relished in the opportunity to play some backyard ball.

“It was fun,” linebacker Owen Pappoe laughed. “I haven’t played in a game like that since high school.”

Auburn held Samford to 114 total yards and 2.0 yards per play, came up with a stop on 11 of 13 third downs, racked up 13 tackles for loss and snapped Samford's 213-game scoring streak.

“At first I thought the rain was going to be something that would be competitive for us, but we played through it,” McCreary said. “It was really great to have fun out there with my teammates.”

The Tigers said they couldn’t have asked for much better from their defense before a massive Iron Bowl showdown next Saturday.

“Coach Steele teaches us to go out there, execute and do all that, play to our standard, but he also wants us to have a lot of fun out there while we’re doing it,” Tutt said. “ When we’re out there, we do our assignment, do this, do that, but we’re just trying to have fun, because when we ain’t having fun with it, we're done with it.”


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