Therezie then went out and played like one in the first half, picking off Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday at the Tigers’ 48-yard line in the first quarter. The junior returned the ball 24 yards to Washington State’s 28-yard line. Not only was it the first interception of his career, but it came at an opportune time for the Tigers, whose offense looked listless in their only possession of the game to that point.
Auburn didn’t let the turnover go to waste, as it scored a touchdown four plays later.
Therezie then recorded his second interception of the game in the fourth quarter in the end zone. It marks the first time since 2010 a single Auburn player had two interceptions in a game. (Josh Bynes had two against Arkansas during the 2010 championship season.)
It was also the first career interception for Joshua Holsey on the last play of the first quarter. Three interceptions surpasses the Auburn team total of two from 2012.
Therezie wasn’t the only Auburn defender pushed into the starting duty at the last minute. Gabe Wright was moved into the lineup in place of Jeffrey Whitaker, who was seen in crutches on the sideline. An update on Whitaker’s condition was not available as of press time.
“First” stood for far more than the opening 30 minutes of play at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.
It also was a statistical achievement for many of Auburn’s players. Along with Therezie, four other Tigers made their first career start: quarterback Nick Marshall, left guard Alex Kozan and defensive ends Craig Sanders and LaDarius Owens.
The Tigers’ special teams had its share of firsts as well: Ryan White pulled off a feat that hadn’t occurred for Auburn in seven years in the first quarter, as he scored on a two-point conversion. It was the first time the Tigers had successfully converted a two-point try since doing the same against Alabama in 2006.
Junior Corey Grant scored his first touchdown as a Tiger in emphatic fashion, scampering 75 yards in the second quarter, which gave Auburn a 22-21 lead with 6:18 remaining before halftime.
And No. 1 got sack No. 1 since becoming a Tiger. True freshman Montravius Adams picked up his sack in the second quarter, tossing Halliday to the ground with a little more than five minutes to go in the period.
• Washington State scored two rushing touchdowns in the first half. In 12 games last season, they totaled just six scores on the ground.
• Cody Parkey’s 47-yard field goal in the second quarter was a career-long for the senior from Jupiter, Fla.
• Auburn’s undefeated 1993 squad was honored in a pregame ceremony as part of its 20-year reunion.
Auburn’s Tre Mason apparently thrives as a kickoff returner in season openers.
He returned a kickoff 100 yards Saturday for a touchdown. He also ran back a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown against Utah State in the 2011 season opener.
Auburn’s last kickoff return for a touchdown was a 100-yard return by Onterio McCalebb at Mississippi State last season. Auburn has returned at least one kickoff for a touchdown each of the last six seasons, tied for third best in the nation.
Auburn has won 78 straight games when scoring 30 or more points.
In its history, Auburn is now 294-4 all-time when scoring at least 30 points. Auburn is 194-1 all-time against non-SEC opponents when scoring 30 points. Auburn’s only loss against a non-SEC opponent when scoring at least 30 points was in 1979. In that game, the Tigers fell 42-38 to Wake Forest.