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Gamer: Ole Miss sacks Liberty a season-high 9 times en route to Rebels’ 27-14 win over Flames

Gamer: Ole Miss sacks Liberty a season-high 9 times en route to Rebels’ 27-14 win over Flames

OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss had a dream first half Saturday. The Rebels raced out to a 24-0 lead at the break after the defense stuffed Liberty’s vaunted offense, but it almost slipped away. The Flames fought back in the second half, outscoring Ole Miss 14-3, but the Ole Miss defense tallied nine sacks and three interceptions to hold onto a 27-14 win.

(Click here for box score.)

“Glad to get the win, and get to 7-2, which is good,” head coach Lane Kiffin said after the game. “We really struggled to take the next step. First half was great. They have a very elite player that we contained in the first half and didn’t in the second half,” he added.

First-half action

On the second play from scrimmage, Jerrion Ealy exploded through a hole off left tackle and flew down the sideline 70 yards for a touchdown. The drive consumed just 34 seconds. After Caden Costa’s conversion, Ole Miss held a 7-0 advantage.

Despite a couple of penalties, the Landsharks were able to stop Liberty on its initial drive with the help of three sacks. On its next possession, Liberty gashed the Rebels’ defense by exploiting the middle of the line and it led to moving deep into Ole Miss territory.

But facing a third down, Ole Miss linebacker Chance Campbell collected the team’s fourth sack of the day. Liberty missed a field goal on the next play and the Rebels survived the threat.

Ole Miss started the next drive in impressive fashion when Matt Corral hit Dannis Jackson down the middle of the field for a gain of 52 to set up the Rebels in Liberty territory. It led to Costa’s 43-yard field goal to give Ole Miss a 10-0 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

The Rebels scored again on a quick drive. It only took four plays for Ole Miss to drive 58 yards – highlighted by a 44-yard pass from Corral to Braylon Sanders – and from there, Ealy dove into the left corner of the end zone and Costa’s kick put the Rebs ahead 17-0.

The Landsharks got an interception by Jaylon Jones to set the offense up at midfield.

Soon after, Corral found Sanders again – this time for 20 yards and Ole Miss was in the red zone. Facing a fourth-and-8, Ole Miss elected to forgo a field goal and a pass to Snoop Conner failed to gain the line needed.

Liberty took advantage right away with runs of 14 and 11 yards to start the drive and later converted a fourth down to move into Rebels’ territory. But A.J. Finley had ideas other than watching the Flames score as he picked off Willis to end the threat.

Five plays later, Corral hit Jackson with a 40-yard scoring strike and Costa’s kick made it 24-0.

Liberty tried to get something going late offensively, but the half ended fittingly enough with Willis being sacked.

Ole Miss had seven sacks in the first half after having a previous game-high of five.

Second-half action

Liberty took the second-half kickoff and moved methodically downfield. The drive was capped with a 28-yard touchdown run by Shedro Louis. The conversion cut the Ole Miss lead to 24-7.

Ole Miss answered on the ensuing drive on a 38-yard Costa field goal to make the score 27-7.

Liberty converted on a first-and-30 on its next possession on its way to an 11-play drive that culminated in a Willis 3-yard touchdown run and suddenly, the lead for Ole Miss was 27-14.

The Rebels next drive started well, but Costa missed a field goal to give Liberty new life early in the fourth quarter.

The Flames looked primed to score their third touchdown of the half, but faced with a fourth down, Willis’ pass was broken up by Keidron Smith to give the Rebels’ offense the ball.

But the Rebels killed their own drive with a series of penalties. Instead of having a chance to add to the score, Ole Miss punted it away and Liberty took over on its own 18 with 9:14 remaining. With the Flames on the move in Ole Miss territory, two sacks forced Liberty into a fourth-and-23 at the Flames 48 to make them punt.

With a minute left and Liberty driving, Finley intercepted Willis in the end zone to preserve the 27-14 victory.

(Feature image credit: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk)

Steve Barnes
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.

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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