No. 21 Ole Miss doesn’t look back, pounds No. 11 Georgia 45-14
OXFORD, Miss. – On Saturday against Georgia, No. 21 Ole Miss did exactly what it had done in its losses to Florida State and Alabama, outscoring its opponent in the first quarter and creating a big hole from which the opponent had to climb out.
But the difference this time was the Rebels didn’t allow the Bulldogs (3-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) to get back in the game. Instead, Ole Miss just kept digging the hole deeper for the Bulldogs.
Senior quarterback Chad Kelly threw two touchdowns and ran for one in leading Mississippi to an easy 45-14 victory over Georgia Saturday afternoon inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The win was the Rebels’ first over the Bulldogs since 1996, snapping a 10-game losing streak.
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jason Pellerin stepped in for Kelly at moments on Saturday, throwing his first collegiate TD pass to junior Eugene Brazley. But it was Kelly who put the nail in the coffin for Georgia as he scampered for a 41-yard rushing TD up the middle, rumbling past a bevy of Bulldogs’ defenders.
“Every single week he’s focused,” Pellerin said of Kelly. “Obviously him being locked-in every single week and single day, got everyone to play better.”
Rebels score early and often in win
The Bulldogs couldn’t muster anything on offense as freshman quarterback Jacob Eason was pressured by the Landshark defense into bad throws for most of the game, often getting hit as he was releasing the football. Eason was sacked three times. Georgia fumbled twice, with one recovered by defensive tackle Austrian Robinson after a hit on Eason early in the third quarter.
Early in the first quarter – after Gary Wunderlich’s 30-yard field goal – Ole Miss’ wide receiver-turned-cornerback Derrick Jones picked off Eason for a 52-yard touchdown. Then, on their next scoring drive, the Rebels found the end zone with a 1-yard TD run from freshman running back D’Vaughn Pennamon to make it 17-0.
Then it was Kelly’s turn to torch Georgia’s defense.
Kelly shrugged off a Bulldog defender then slung the football 55-yards downfield to sophomore DaMarkus Lodge for the TD over two Georgia defenders. Saturday marked the 17th-consecutive game Kelly has thrown a TD pass, which is the most in school history.
Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly
Before halftime, Kelly threw one more TD pass, this time to senior tight end Evan Engram – from nine yards out. Following his score, Engram, who had 6 catches for 95 yards, imitated a basketball player with a jump-shot celebration. Engram’s sister is a junior forward on the Georgia women’s basketball team.
The Rebels (2-2, 1-1) led 31-0 at the break, and didn’t look to let up off the gas pedal like they had in games against Florida State and Alabama this season. Kelly finished 18-of-24 for 282 yards passing, no interceptions and two touchdowns.
Ole Miss finished with 510 total yards of offense.
The No. 11 Bulldogs had opportunities to close the gap but a number of dropped passes from their receiving corps prevented Georgia from gaining any type of momentum. The Bulldogs weren’t the best on third downs, either, going 4-for-16 for the game.
Eason finished 16-of-36 for 137 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. The running game for Georgia found itself as hampered as the passing offense. Sony Michel rushed for only 66 yards; Nick Chubb rushed for 57 yards. The Bulldogs scored late off two rushing TD’s by Brian Herrien.
“I think that was the key to the game,” said Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack about the pressure on Eason. “We got pressure on his play-action pass too.”
Of concern for the Bulldogs is the injury to Chubb, who was taken off the field in the second quarter. He didn’t return to the game, suffering from an apparent ankle injury.
Ole Miss hosts Memphis on Oct. 1, while Georgia hosts Tennessee the same day.
Feature image credit: John Bowen, 247Sports