Jonathan Wallace finally provided some offense for struggling Auburn, which beat New Mexico State on Saturday for just its second win of the year.
AUBURN, Ala. — Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb produced big runs and linebacker Daren Bates showed he's still got some of his old running back moves, too.
Mason rushed for a career-high 152 yards and McCalebb added 113 and two touchdowns to help the Tigers snap a five-game losing streak with a 42-7 victory over New Mexico State on Saturday.
Bates returned a fumble for a 62-yard touchdown for the Tigers (2-7), who picked up a much-needed win in the program's worst start in 60 years with games against No. 7 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama looming. It was Auburn's longest fumble return for a score since 1969.
"There were a lot of guys that are extremely happy, coaches and players, in the locker room," coach Gene Chizik said. "It's been a little while since we've had that feeling. It was good to see everybody with a smile on their face."
The rushing outburst helped take pressure off freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace in his first start and gave beleaguered fans something to cheer. The Tigers got season-highs in points and yards with 475 to send the Aggies (1-8) to their eighth straight defeat.
Mason had 22 carries, including a 40-yarder, and scored on a 5-yard run.
"It feels really good. I've been begging for the ball," Mason said. "I had to prove that I could do something with the ball."
McCalebb's eight rushes were highlighted by touchdowns of 38 and 7 yards.
Wallace was solid in his starting debut and provided a spark for the nation's 120th-rated offense after Mason fumbled the exchanged on Auburn's first offensive play. The freshman admitted he was a little nervous starting out.
"It's just some things you've got to get over and play ball," Wallace said. "When it comes down to it, just play ball."
He completed 9 of 16 passes for 164 yards. He had a throw into double coverage near the goal line intercepted but also threw a 40-yard touchdown to Trovon Reed in the fourth. Reed was sporting the No. 37 jersey in honor of former teammate Ladarious Phillips, who was among three people killed during a pool-party shooting over the summer.
The elusive Wallace only ran three times for 9 yards, but that threat opened up opportunities for Mason and the speedy McCalebb. He also managed to avoid getting sacked after Auburn had allowed 29 sacks on the season.
"I couldn't be more pleased with the way he managed the team, directed the team, made plays at critical times in the game when we needed them," Chizik said
The two tailbacks had only one 100-yard effort apiece entering the game.
Bates provided the biggest highlight play in a season full of lowlights. He scooped up the ball and rambled toward the end zone, stiff-arming Germi Morrison to the ground at the 20.
"It was going back to my high school days of running the ball at running back and trying to make a play," Bates said. "And I was able to."
The Aggies trailed just 7-0 at halftime before Auburn's running game got rolling.
"We needed to get some things going more on offense to give our team a chance to win," New Mexico State coach DeWayne Walker said. "Unfortunately, when they decided that they were just going to run the ball down our throat, they did.
"I'm just a little disappointed in the second half. We didn't emulate how we played the first half."
Andrew Manley completed 17 of 30 passes for 222 yards but was sacked four times and lost the fumble that Bates returned. Austin Franklin gained 154 yards on seven catches, including a 51-yarder.
"They didn't do much to stop us; we just stopped ourselves," Manley said.
Auburn's defense rebounded after giving up 671 yards — the most ever yielded by the Tigers — against No. 16 Texas A&M.
New Mexico State didn't score until Tiger Powell's 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter. The Aggies were outgained 475-305.
The Tigers' 7-0 lead at halftime was their first since going up 10-9 on No. 5 LSU on Sept. 22. It came courtesy of Mason's run to cap a 13-play, 89-yard drive.
Fullback Jay Prosch then scored his first career touchdown on a 1-yard run to cap Auburn's opening drive of the second half.
The Tigers also scored on drives of 80, 96 and 77 yards.
Auburn had 311 rushing yards on 45 carries.
"We just felt like we had to be able to do that in this game, particularly as you get in the third or fourth quarter against a team you feel you ought to be able to wear down eventually," Chizik said. "That's kind of the way it unfolded."