Ole Miss contains Fournette, beats LSU 38-17 to take Magnolia Bowl Trophy
The home team fans inside Vaught-Hemingway were in high spirits, ready to cheer on the 20 Ole Miss seniors in their last home game. They were not disappointed, as the Rebels’ senior-oriented defense forced LSU’s Brandon Harris to throw two interceptions as No. 22 Ole Miss (8-3, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) thumped the 15th-ranked Tigers (7-3, 4-3), 38-17, in this year’s Magnolia Bowl.
The Ole Miss Landshark defense arguably played one of its best games of the season and did so against one of the nation’s top running backs in LSU’s Leonard Fournette. The Rebels were up for the challenge from the opening kickoff, pushing the Louisiana native behind the line of scrimmage on almost every tackle.
“I am just really excited for our kids, especially our seniors,” Rebels’ head coach Hugh Freeze said after the game. “They have put so much into changing this program. Many of them have experienced tough times, and some have experienced some of the most gut-wrenching losses you can experience as a team.”
Freeze explained what it means to win the Magnolia Bowl Trophy:
Any time you win a rivalry game and get to hold that trophy for a year, it means a lot to the Rebel fans. One of the great joys I have is when we do get validated by what the scoreboard says, and we get to enjoy that for the next 365 days, or so.
LSU’s comeback thwarted by Chad Kelly
After the first half the Rebels were up 24-7, but the Tigers weren’t ready to roll over. LSU responded early in the second half with 10 straight points to close the gap to a touchdown. First, Trent Dominque connected on a 43-yard field goal. Then, the Rebels fumbled a kickoff return, which led to a Tigers’ touchdown.
Ole Miss found itself in desperate need of a score to keep the Tigers off-balance, and quarterback Chad Kelly was just the man for the job. The Rebels’ QB scored a touchdown on an 11-yard run with 7:34 left in the third quarter and then threw a 36-yard TD pass to Evan Engram that ended the Tigers’ hopes for good.
It was obvious how much the win meant to the Rebels’ players.
“It just feels great to beat LSU,” said Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, who had four receptions for 58 yards. “Credit to Coach Freeze and the staff for the work they put in to put us where we are now.”
Containing Leonard Fournette
The Rebels entered the game with one thing in mind, stopping Leonard Fournette. The defense did just that as they held the Heisman hopeful to 108 rushing yards on 25 carries. And the with the defense making stops, the offense, led by Kelly, was able to dismantle LSU’s defense and score one touchdown after another.
After the initial field goal, Jaylen Walton rushed for two yards to give the Rebels their first touchdown of the afternoon. Then, Kelly ran for a five-yard rushing touchdown which put Ole Miss up 17-0. Late in the second quarter, LSU’s Harris was picked off by Christian Russell, which set up the Rebels’ offense for its next, short scoring drive.
Ole Miss needed only one play, an 11-yard dart pass from Kelly to Treadwell, for the team’s biggest lead of the half, 24-0. For the game, Kelly threw for 280 yards on 19-of-34 passing and rushed for 81 yards and two scores on 12 carries.
“I give all the glory to God and my teammates,” said Kelly, who became the single season touchdown leader in school history (34), eclipsing Eli Manning’s 32 in 2001. “We have had some great players that have come through this school.”
LSU’s Harris finished the game 26-of-51 for 324 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions.
- Kelly broke the school record for total offense yards in a season (3,857), eclipsing Bo Wallace’s 3,701 in 2013.
- Ole Miss has defeated Alabama, Auburn, and LSU in the same season for the first time in program history.
- With 38 points in the win over LSU, the Rebels broke the school record for points in a season. Ole Miss has 445 points, surpassing the total of 442 in 2003.
Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics
Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.