OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss and Kent State kicked off at 11:00 a.m. in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday—and 5 hours and 40 minutes later, the Rebels emerged victorious, 38-17, after weather delays stopped play for over two hours.
Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke was proud of his team fighting through the weather delays and some first-half offensive sluggishness.
“I was proud of the kids bouncing back, getting up off the mat and going to get a win. The defense played really well in the first half. They had seven sacks. So I’m happy to see them have some success that we can build off of and proud of that.“
Matt Luke on his team’s performance
Tied after a half of play
The first quarter of play between the Rebels and the Golden Flashes began with the ball in the hands of the away team. The Ole Miss defense forced a punt, and quarterback Jordan Ta’amu and company quickly took the field and executed a drive that culminated with a Scottie Phillips 38-yard touchdown reception that gave the Rebels a 7-0 lead with 11:20 left in the first.
(Click here for box score.)
The next possession for the Golden Flashes ended with a 48-yard field goal that went wide left, and the Rebels still led, 7-0.
Early in the second quarter, Kent State produced a 5-play drive that ended in a trick play for a touchdown. Wide receiver Kavious Price thew a perfect 18-yard pass to the waiting Jo-el Shaw standing in the end zone, and the two teams were knotted up at 7-7 with 12:28 remaining in the half.
The teams again traded possessions before Ole Miss drove down the field behind the running of freshman Tylan Knight. However, Ole Miss couldn’t convert on the field goal as it was blocked by the Golden Flashes.
Kent State drove to midfield, but the first-half clock expired with score tied at 7-7.
After weather delays, Rebels cruise
After a delayed start to the second half because of lightning, the third quarter provided plenty of action. Ole Miss received the kickoff and promptly marched down the field, scoring on a two-yard touchdown from Scottie Phillips. With the TD, Ole Miss took the lead, 14-7, with 13:20 left in the third period.
The following drive by the Golden Flashes went 50 yards and resulted in a Matthew Tricket 32-yard field goal that brought Kent State’s deficit to 14-10.
With 10:50 remaining in the third quarter, the Ole Miss offense really began to show its true potential as it only took two plays to put the ball in the endzone. The score came from a spectacular one-handed TD grab by D.K. Metcalf over a Kent State defender. The 32-second drive gave Ole Miss a 21-10 lead.
It only took another 3 minutes and 23 seconds for the Golden Flashes to answer, as Kent State’s dynamic QB, Woody Barrett, scored a rushing touchdown from two yards out. The score was then 21-17 with 6:45 remaining in the quarter.
The Rebels responded, however, and with just three seconds left in the third, Ole Miss scored on a 27-yard Luke Logan field goal that gave the Rebels’ a 24-17 lead. Moving into the final period, Ole Miss forced a Kent State punt with 12:35 to go in the game.
Ta’amu quickly put the Rebels on the board, once again, with a 4-yard rushing touchdown that was set up by a deep throw to junior tight end Dawson Knox. The drive went 88 yards in 2:40 and put the Rebs in firm control of the game, leading 31-17 with 9:55 remaining.
The Landshark defense then forced another turnover as the unit recovered a Kent State fumble, giving the Rebels the ball at the Golden Flashes 34-yard line. Then, Mother Nature reared her head again–forcing the two teams to their locker rooms with a weather delay that lasted one hour and forty-three minutes.
When play resumed, the teams took the field with 9:25 left in the game. Showing no letdown from the long delay, Ta’amu and the Rebel offense put together a solid scoring drive capped off by a 7 yard rushing touchdown courtesy of Isaiah Woullard.
With 7:06 remaining, Ole Miss led Kent State, 38-17, and that would prove to be the final margin at the end of the game.
Coach Luke was proud of how his team handled the delay.
Overall, I’m proud the way they handled the last nine minutes,” he said. “As a coach, you are worried that they will lose their focus, but they went in and punched it in,” he said.
“I was very pleased that they kept their focus. All of these wins are precious, and each win counts the same. I am pleased the way they came back out and finished it off. “
Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke on his team’s performance with weather delays
Ole Miss moves to 3-1, while Kent State drops to 1-3.
News and notes:
- Ole Miss finished with 651 yards of total offense.
- Jordan Ta’amu threw for 442 yards and 2 touchdowns.
- Ole Miss running back Scottie Phillips finished with 112 yards rushing on 19 attempts, his third game this season of over 100 yards, and one touchdown. He also caught two passes for 44 yards and one touchdown.
- Freshman RB Tylan Knight tallied 62 yards on 6 carries.
- The Nasty Wide Outs were in full force Saturday, as three receivers eclipsed the 75-yard mark. D.K. Matcalf led the way with 5 receptions for 102 yards and 1 touchdown. A.J. Brown notched 7 receptions for 96 yards. DaMarkus Lodge caught 6 passes for 81 yards.
- Defensively, the Rebels forced two turnovers in the win, one a fumble and the other coming from a Zedrick Woods interception.
- The Landshark defense sacked Kent State seven times on the day and also recorded 15 tackles for loss.
Ole Miss travels to Baton Rouge to play the LSU Tigers at 8:15 p.m. (CT) on ESPN.
Offensive coordinator Phil Longo talks about the win over Kent State. (Video: Archie Breland, The Rebel Walk)