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Rebels rally to defeat Georgia Southern 37-27

Rebels rally to defeat Georgia Southern 37-27

OXFORD, Miss. – Legendary college football coach Bobby Bowden once said, “I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty.” It’s probably a safe bet that Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze agrees with Bowden and is glad the short-handed Rebels were able to grind out the win over Georgia Southern.

Two field goals of 29 and 38 yards in the second half by Gary Wunderlich were enough for Ole Miss (4-5, 1-4 Southeastern Conference) to end a three-game losing streak and get the 37-27 victory over the Eagles Saturday afternoon inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

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Redshirt freshman Jason Pellerin came in for the Rebels at QB when Chad Kelly went out with an injury. (Photo credit: Mario Parham)

Redshirt freshman quarterback Jason Pellerin came in for an injured Chad Kelly late in the third quarter to lead the Rebels’ offense to its final two scoring drives of the game. Pellerin was 1 for 5 for 19 yards and an interception. He rushed for 29 yards on four carries.

Pellerin’s interception was a bit of a fluke as it first fell into the hands of freshman wide receiver A.J. Brown, but was then ripped away from Ole Miss receiver by defensive back Darius Jones, Jr.

Kelly suffered a knee injury in the game and will have an MRI on Sunday to determine the gravity of his injury. Kelly completed 16 of 23 passes for 226 yards and a score. He also ran for two touchdowns.

“I’m proud of our young men today, short-handed as we were and the injuries we suffered today against a solid Georgia Southern team. Give credit to them. Proud of our kids for fighting.”

Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss head coach 

The Eagles’ best opportunity to close the gap came when the score was 34-24. On third-and-9 from the Ole Miss’ 21-yard line, Kevin Ellison threw a floating pass to wide receiver B.J. Johnson, III but Johnson dropped the would-be touchdown pass.

Georgia Southern (4-5, 3-2 Sun Belt) had to settle for Younghoe Koo’s 38-yard field goal on a drive where Myles Campbell had two big catches for 31 and 36 yards. He finished with 121 yards and a touchdown on four catches.

Georgia Southern takes early lead

After the Rebels took a 3-0 lead, things took a turn for the worse for the entire first quarter, heading into the early portions of the second quarter. On third-and-14 from the Ole Miss’ 29, Ellison found Campbell for the 29-yard touchdown to give Georgia Southern a spark and the 7-3 lead.

The Eagles struck again on their next drive, this time with Ellison breaking out to the right side for the nine-yard TD run. After the score–and down 14-3–Rebels fans were beginning to worry.

But Kelly came to the rescue with touchdown runs of three and five yards to get the Rebels back in the game. Akeem Judd’s nine-yard run a drive later lifted Ole Miss to its first lead of the afternoon since the 9:01 mark of the first quarter at 24-21.

“I think we needed something to spark it up, and I think when we got the spark going, we were pretty much doing our job.”

 Akeem Judd, Ole Miss RB

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Evan Engram finished with 4 catches for 75 yards and a TD in the win over Georgia Southern. (Photo credit: Mario Parham, The Rebel Walk)

Rebels everywhere breathed a sigh of relief when Kelly connected with senior tight end Evan Engram through the middle for a 38-yard TD that gave Ole Miss a 10-point lead (31-21) at the break.

Engram now owns the single-season record for catches by a tight end (53).

Georgia Southern, at one point, led 21-10 after Matt Breida ran up the middle for a 68-yard touchdown. The Eagles could have extended their lead, but went three-and-out on their next two drives before Koo missed a 54-yard field goal attempt before halftime that would have cut Georgia Southern’s deficit to a touchdown.

Breida rushed for 100 yards on 22 carries. Georgia Southern gained a total of 267 yards on 59 carries.

The Eagles also had some costly penalties, six for 54 yards. Three of them came on Ole Miss’ final two scoring drives of the first half.

Freeze on the quarterback situation

In the post game press conference, Freeze mentioned if Kelly can’t go next week at Texas A&M, he may give former Ole Miss quarterback Ryan Buchanan a call to come and dress out for the team. Buchanan left the team after last season in order to concentrate on school.

“There are three games left in the season and you certainly don’t want to pull that redshirt (Patterson’s). I may go see if Ryan Buchanan wants to dress this week, in all seriousness. I am being dead serious.”

Hugh Freeze on former Ole Miss QB Ryan Buchanan

When Freeze was asked if he would pull the redshirt off of freshman quarterback Shea Patterson, the head coach indicated he would wait on Kelly’s MRI results before even considering such a tough decision.

“That would be very difficult for me to do at this point,” Freeze said. “Let’s just see what tomorrow brings and go from there.”

John Youngblood

Senior defensive end John Youngblood suffered an ankle injury in the first half against the Eagles. Fans inside the stadium stood up to cheer and the entire team went out onto the field to support Youngblood as he was carried off the field on a cart.

“I wish him a speedy recovery. We just had to rally together and get it done because I know that is what he wants.”

Fadol Brown, Ole Miss senior DE

(Feature image credit: Mario Parham, The Rebel Walk)

Courtney Smith
Courtney Smith

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.

About The Author

Courtney Smith

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.

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