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Ventura Highway: Rebels glad the road led QB Matt Corral to the ‘Sip

Ventura Highway: Rebels glad the road led QB Matt Corral to the ‘Sip

“Ventura Highway in the sunshine,

Where the days are longer, the nights are stronger than moonshine,

You’re gonna go, I know….”

— America, 1975

OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral was born 24 years after that song was a hit, but the highway from his native Ventura, Calif., led straight to Oxford, Miss.

Matt Corral drops back to pass

Matt Corral threw for 513 yards against South Carolina Saturday. (Photo: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)

And on one night in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, those long days of practice in the heat and humidity of the South made him stronger than any concoction of white lightning manufactured in hills of North Mississippi.  

Corral torched South Carolina Saturday for a school record 513 yards passing as Ole Miss beat the Gamecocks, 59-42. 

The fact he passed Shea Patterson’s record for most passing yards in a game (489) should not be a surprise. It was just a week ago Corral surpassed Eli Manning in the record book by completing 19 consecutive passes in the Rebels’ win at Vanderbilt.

When his numbers from the South Carolina and Vandy wins are combined, they are mind-boggling. 

“Another ridiculous game,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said in his postgame press conference.

I don’t know if there’s ever been two games going back to back where a quarterback, or receiver, when you add these two stats up that have ever done that before.

Head coach Lane Kiffin on WR Elijah Moore and Corral

The quarterback, Corral, and the wide receiver, Elijah Moore, are keeping the Ole Miss sports information staff busy updating the record section of the football media guide.

In the past two games — both wins, constituting the first SEC winning streak for the Rebels since 2015 — the duo has produced some gaudy numbers in the passing game. Corral has completed 59-of-66 passes for 925 yards and ten touchdowns in the past two weeks. Yes, he has thrown more touchdowns than incompletions in that time.

Moore has caught 27 passes for 463 yards and five touchdowns in the same time frame.

Corral knows he has something special in his receiving target.

“I do not believe there is another guy in the country like him, even the dudes at Alabama,” Corral said of Moore.

Just his route running is different. His route running is different, and you have a receivers’ coach break down that kid’s film, it’s prolific. He belongs in the NFL.

Matt Corral on Elijah Moore

And Moore is multifaceted. Saturday, he lined up in every receiver position and even was as a running back. But Corral prefers his teammate as a wideout.

“There were two times where he was just wide open and there was one, I think was in the first half, he had a corner route and it was man coverage. (He) did a little cut in and broke out and the dude (the defensive back) was nowhere to be found,” Corral said. “The kid is special.”

That second occurrence Corral referenced was a 91-yard touchdown pass that is the longest one in Ole Miss history.

Moore thought the connection was simple.

“You know, they were in man (coverage) and they had miscommunication on the play,” Moore said. “We just took advantage and Matt saw me and we just completed the play and scored.”

Moore might be relaxed in describing the play, but that is only because he did not see Kiffin toss his play sheet high in the air and run down the sidelines after him. He may have not seen his coach during the play, but he appreciates the sentiment. 

It’s a great feeling knowing the coach has pump in him, he has juice in him. And he gets excited as us so when we score, he scores.

Elijah Moore on Coach Kiffin

Perhaps that band America had in mind many years ago what this offense was waiting on to arrive in Oxford.

“Wishing on a falling star, waiting for the early train,” the group wrote.

These Rebels might have just been waiting for the Lane Train.

Oh, and here’s “Ventura Highway” for those who love it — and those who don’t know it.

About The Author

Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers. He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio. A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series. Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time. He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk. Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

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