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Gamer: Ole Miss defeats Louisville, 43-24

Gamer: Ole Miss defeats Louisville, 43-24

ATLANTA – With Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin watching the game at home after testing positive for COVID, chances are he had no clipboard to throw after a big play by the Rebels. 

The jury is still out on how many times Kiffin’s remote control may have gone airborne as his Rebels topped Louisville 43-24 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium Monday. 

Matt Corral completed 22-of-32 passes for 381 yards and a touchdown. He completed passes to eight different receivers with Dontario Drummond leading the way with nine receptions for 177 yards and a score. 

“He’s smart,” Corral said of Drummond.

He’s working the tight end spot. He’s working in the slot and that does a lot for us. We can use him and go in fast tempo and get him wherever we want him because he can go out there and execute.”

Matt Corral on Dontario Drummond

Snoop Conner paced the rushing attack with 60 yards on 8 carries — two of which were for touchdowns — while Corral chipped in 55. 

Ole Miss out-gained Louisville 569-355, despite the Cardinals possessing the ball over 11 minutes more than the Rebels. 

The Ole Miss offense wasted little time in showing off its form from a season ago. After starting the initial possession at the Rebels’ own 7, Matt Corral guided the Rebels on a 93-yard touchdown march. The junior threw for 80 yards on the drive and Jerrion Ealy capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown. 

Kiffin liked what he saw from his quarterback.

I’ve said it all along, I think the guy is really special. If he plays like this, going to make a lot of money, be in the Top-10 picks.

Head coach Lane Kiffin on Matt Corral

Ole Miss had a 6-0 lead before most of the 30,700 in attendance were able to settle into their seats. 

New defensive scheme leads to increased production

The Rebels’ defense looked much stauncher than a season ago as evidenced by Louisville’s first drive. The Cardinals were able to drive into Ole Miss territory, but faced with a fourth-and-short, Louisville QB Malik Cunningham was dropped for a two-yard loss by linebacker Chase Campbell. 

After the game, Coach Kiffin discussed the new defensive scheme his team implemented.

They played how we are supposed to. Obviously we completely changed schemes from what we did a year ago, and I had not talked about it on purpose and waited for this game. You know, whatever you want to call it, this three-down and two linebackers and everybody else is DBs, it’s similar to some stuff that we played last year, Arkansas and Iowa State play it.

Basically what this defense amounts to is a three-man front with two inside linebackers. Normally you would see two defensive ends with a three-man front, but in the Rebels’ defense, those defensive ends have been replaced with defensive backs who are still strong enough to play the run.

Meanwhile, the secondary can still play all its normal coverages.

“You know, just really thought it gives people problems, so in the off-season went to it and players bought into it and it paid off, made some explosive plays and saw a lot of guys running down the hill hitting people,” Kiffin explained.

Caden Costa shines in debut

Freshman Caden Costa made his presence known later in the quarter. After an Ole Miss drive stalled at the Cards’ 30, the Mandeville, La., native drilled a 47-yard field goal for his first collegiate points to give Ole Miss a 9-0 advantage. 

The Rebels extended their lead early in the second quarter. Ole Miss took over at its own 7 and easily moved to midfield. At the Louisville 46, facing a fourth-and-two, Corral ran for four yards to keep the drive alive. After a personal foul on the Cards, it only took Snoop Conner two attempts to get inside the Louisville 10. From there, Corral ran into the end zone from the 6 and Costa’s kick put the Rebels ahead 16-0. 

The first two touchdown drives of the season for Ole Miss covered 94 and 93 yards. 

Deantre Prince intercepts a Malik Cunningham pass in the 43-24 win over Louisville.

Deantre Prince set the Rebs up in great field position later in the quarter after picking off Cunningham at midfield and returning the ball to the Louisville 35. 

On first down, Corral found Jonathan Mingo with a 34-yard strike to give Ole Miss a first-and-goal at the Cardinals’ 1. Conner took care of the last year and after Costa’s kick, the Rebels owned a 23-0 lead. 

Ole Miss closed the half in typical Rebel fashion. The Rebels drove 70 yards in the final minute, ending up at the Louisville 7, where Costa came on for his second field goal, this one from the Cardinals’ 5 and he made a 22-yarder as the first-half clock expired to give Ole Miss a 26-0 lead at the half. 

In the first half, Corral threw for 327 yards and Dontario Drummond proved to be his favorite target in the first two quarters, grabbing four passes for 102 yards. In the first half, Corral completed four passes of over 25 yards. 

Louisville got on the board on its first possession of the second half. Hassan Hall took back the second-half kick 59 yards to set the Cards up in Ole Miss territory. The Landsharks bent, but did not break and forced Louisville into kicking a 38-yard field goal by James Turner to cut the Ole Miss lead to 26-3. 

Ole Miss regained its 26-point advantage on the ensuing possession. After driving 55 yards, Costa drilled a 38-yard field goal and the Rebels held a 29-3 lead. 

Louisville finally got into the end zone late in the third quarter. Facing a fourth down, Cunningham connected with Braden Smith for a 4-yard touchdown. The conversion cut the Ole Miss lead to 29-10. 

Undaunted, Ole Miss took the ensuing kick and drove 75 yards to a Conner 11-yard scoring run and Costa nailed the conversion and the Rebels’ held a 36-10 lead early in the fourth quarter. 

Louisville returned to the end zone on its next possession as Cunningham capped a 14-play, 70-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown. The kick cut the lead again to 36-17. 

On the next Ole Miss drive, Corral finally got his first touchdown pass of the season. Corral found Drummond with a six-yard scoring strike and Costa’s kick extended the Rebels’ lead to 43-17. 

Cunningham got into the end zone once more with less than four minutes remaining, this time from nine-yards out. The conversion sliced the Ole Miss lead to 43-24, which was the final. 

Defensively, Otis Reese, A.J. Finley, Tysheem Johnson and Ashanti Cistrunk each had eight total tackles with Cistrunk added 2.5 for loss and a half a sack. Keidron Smith and Chance Campbell added seven stops apiece for the Rebels. 

Ole Miss returns home to take on Austin Peay Saturday. 

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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