Each week, The Rebel Walk’s Jeff Tetrick takes a look at the Ole Miss Postgame Points, examining the top five takeaways from the Rebels’ most recent football game. Here are the Postgame Points from the clutch win over #8 Texas A&M.
1. Inspiring Win
In last week’s column, I noted the resiliency that Ole Miss displayed in coming back to beat Georgia Southern and stated that the Rebels would need to overcome adversity to get bowl eligible. On Saturday night at Kyle Field, Ole Miss checked off those boxes in a big way. The resilient Rebels delivered an inspiring win in the final seconds, stunning #8 Texas A&M with a comeback for the ages.
The Aggies raced out to a 21-6 lead by halftime. Ole Miss made adjustments at the break that began paying dividends on both sides of the ball during a third-quarter stalemate. Then the Rebels broke through in the fourth quarter, coming up with clutch plays time and time again to pull off the 29-28 upset.
2. Wunderlich Delivers
The 23-point outburst by Ole Miss in the final quarter featured numerous crucial plays. Shea Patterson connected with Van Jefferson for a 32-yard touchdown pass with just over 5 minutes left to pull the Rebels to within 28-26.
Then the Landshark Defense forced a three-and-out that gave Ole Miss the ball back with 3:44 to play. A couple of key moments highlighted the final drive. Evan Engram came up with a first-down reception from Patterson to get the Rebels across midfield. Then, Patterson scrambled for 13 yards to get Ole Miss in field goal range.
From there, it was up to the field goal unit to complete the comeback. As he has done all year, Gary Wunderlich delivered for the Rebels. Wunderlich’s 39-yard field goal attempt sailed through the uprights to provide Ole Miss with a 29-28 lead with 37 seconds left in the game. Credit longsnapper Will Few and holder Will Gleeson for doing their parts in helping Wunderlich connect on the first game-winning kick of his career.
3. Explosive Offense
In spite of having a first-time starter at quarterback, Ole Miss churned out 490 yards of total offense against Texas A&M. The Rebels got 152 yards and a touchdown on the ground, while the aerial attack yielded 338 yards and 2 scores.
For the second consecutive week, Akeem Judd was the star running back. Judd carried the ball 20 times for 100 yards and 1 touchdown. Shea Patterson was valuable as a runner, too. The freshman quarterback contributed 64 yards on the ground, none bigger than his 13-yard run for a first-down late in the game that helped set the stage for the game-winning kick.
Patterson had an impressive night throwing the ball, as well. The true freshman connected on 25 of 42 pass attempts for 338 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Patterson’s favorite target was Evan Engram, who hauled in 6 receptions for 49 yards on the night. Damore’ea Stringfellow caught 5 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. Van Jefferson grabbed 4 receptions for 51 yards and a score, while A.J. Brown caught 4 balls for 77 yards.
4. Stiff Defense
The most pleasant surprise in the victory over Texas A&M was the play of the defense. The Landsharks have struggled all season, especially in the second half of games. On Saturday night, the defense surrendered 21 points in the opening half. However, the Landsharks were outstanding in the second half and made big plays that helped Ole Miss rally for a victory.
After the Rebels pulled to within 28-26, the Landsharks forced a three-and-out that gave Ole Miss the ball back with plenty of time to get downfield and seize the lead from the Aggies. After the Rebels took the lead, the defense came up big again when Deontay Anderson sealed the upset with an interception.
Overall, the statistics bear witness to how well the defense played against the eighth-ranked Aggies. Ole Miss held Texas A&M to 129 rushing yards, 213 passing yards, and 342 total yards of offense. The Rebels kept the Aggies 105 rushing yards below their season average per game.
Further, the Landsharks allowed Texas A&M to convert just 6 of 14 third-down attempts and 0 of 2 on fourth-down plays. The stiff defense limited the Aggies to 62 plays in the game. In contrast, Ole Miss got 89 snaps on offense and needed that final snap to secure the game-winning points.
5. A Debut to Remember
While most football analysts wrote off Ole Miss after Chad Kelly was lost for the season, freshman Shea Patterson gave Rebel fans a debut to remember for years to come. In a loud, hostile environment like Kyle Field, in front of 104,892 fans, and against the eighth-ranked team in the country, Patterson looked nothing like a rookie seeing his first collegiate playing time.
Patterson turned in a sterling performance in his inaugural game as a Rebel. He completed 59 percent of his passes for 338 yards and 2 touchdowns, while throwing 1 interception. Patterson ran for 64 yards, including a vital first-down run that got Ole Miss into field goal range on the final drive of the night.
Patterson’s numbers would be excellent for any quarterback facing an SEC team ranked inside the top ten and on the road in front of over 104,000 fans. To think that he produced those statistics in an intimidating stadium while taking his first snaps in a Rebel uniform is all the more remarkable.
(Feature image credit: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk)