AUBURN, Ala. - After lightning delayed Auburn's season opener for 90 minutes in the third quarter, Tank Bigsby provided his own lightning strike, racing 39 yards for a touchdown on the first play after the game resumed.
Generating explosive plays on the ground and in the air, Auburn kicked off the 2022 season by defeating Mercer 42-16 Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The big-play Tigers produced seven plays of 20 yards or more.
Auburn scored touchdowns on four of its first five drives with Jarquez Hunter scoring the season's first points on a 19-yard run on the Tigers' first drive.
Auburn gained 88 yards in two plays on its second possession on a 49-yard run by quarterback Robby Ashford and a 39-yard pass from T.J. Finley to Ja'Varrius Johnson. Auburn made it 14-0 on Finley's 2-yard touchdown pass to John Samuel Shenker.
Hunter's 2-yard touchdown put the Tigers on top 21-0 early in the second quarter with 84,562 in attendance.
Bigsby, who led Auburn with 147 rushing yards on 16 carries, scored on a 2-yard touchdown run to give Auburn a 28-0 lead with 5:04 remaining in the first half.
Mercer capitalized on an Auburn interception to score on a 5-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds left in the half.
Derick Hall recorded a third-down sack to force a punt in the third quarter. Ashford threw a 56-yard pass to Johnson to set up Hunter's third touchdown, a 1-yarder that gave Auburn a 35-7 lead before lightning within eight miles of Pat Dye Field delayed the game late in the third quarter.
The Bears added nine fourth-quarter points on a field goal and a touchdown with 25 seconds remaining.
Linebacker Cam Riley led Auburn with a career-high 15 tackles, exceeding his 2021 season total of 14.
Johnson made four receptions for 117 yards, averaging 29.3 yards per catch.
Ashford, a redshirt freshman, produced 168 yards of total offense, completing 4-of-7 passes for 100 yards while rushing for 68 yards on six carries.
The Tigers (1-0) continue their five-game homestand next Saturday when San Jose State visits Jordan-Hare Stadium at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU.