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Rebels Sneak Out Victory Over Tulsa, Look To Improve With Kentucky Looming

Rebels Sneak Out Victory Over Tulsa, Look To Improve With Kentucky Looming

Oxford, Miss. – Whether it’s by one point or 50 points, a win still counts as a win. Nevertheless, Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss were far from satisfied after struggling with Tulsa on Saturday, defeating the Golden Hurricane by a final of 35-27. The Rebels had been favored by 21 points prior to kickoff.

We didn’t play well in the second half, especially offensively. We didn’t play well at all in the first half defensively. So that’s not a good thing. We did win so we’re 4-0 which is the best that you can be from a record standpoint at this point, but kind of similar to the first game of the year where we played really well early and then didn’t. I thought we had overcome that with the way the last two games had gone, having really big leads at halftime… Obviously we didn’t do that today and I tried everything but gotta figure out something better.

Lane Kiffin on the Rebels’ performance

Early Explosives

Just as they’ve done for the whole season so far, Ole Miss wasted little time in putting points on the board. After receiving the opening kickoff, Zach Evans, the star transfer running back from TCU, scampered in from 20 yards out to give the Rebels the lead. The scoring drive took just 99 seconds.

Defensive Question Marks

The first three games for Ole Miss were against Troy, Central Arkansas and Georgia Tech. None of those three teams are known for prolific passing attacks. The same could not be said for Tulsa.

The Hurricane entered Saturday’s contest as the No. 1 passing offense in the country, and the Ole Miss defense was ill prepared for it in the early stages of the game. Tulsa easily drove down the field on their first two possessions, taking a 14-7 lead on the Rebels with 3:17 remaining in the first quarter.

The Golden Hurricane passing attack took advantage of zone coverage and poor tackling and the Rebels trailed for the first time in the 2022 season.

Rebels Strike Back

After falling behind, Ole Miss got locked in for the second quarter. Quinshon Judkins, the superstar true freshman running back who is quickly making a name for himself, evened the score with a four-yard rush to open the second quarter.

After the Rebels held Tulsa scoreless on its next drive, Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart would show off his arm talent with a beautiful throw to transfer wide receiver Malik Heath, putting it right in his hands for a 31-yard touchdown pass to retake the lead for Ole Miss.

The Rebels would get the ball back again, and Judkins would strike from one yard out, putting the Rebels up 28-14.

And the Rebels weren’t done just yet. AJ Finley got in on the action defensively, picking off Tulsa quarterback Braylon Braxton, who replaced an injured Davis Brin, to set the Rebels up in good field position for another drive.

Jonathan Mingo then put on a show, making a catch and effortlessly juking out the defense to give the Rebels 28 unanswered points and a 35-14 lead.

Tulsa would manage a field goal to end the half, but the Rebels were feeling good with a 35-17 lead at the break.

Second Half Woes Continue, But The Defense Saves The Day

Unfortunately for Ole Miss, that Jonathan Mingo touchdown would be the last time the Rebels would put points on the board. Ole Miss couldn’t find any answers in the second half, punting on every drive but one, and that one was a fumble recovered by Tulsa.

The Golden Hurricane would give the Rebels quite a scare, putting up ten third-quarter points to cut the lead to 35-27, but the Ole Miss defense would come through when it mattered, forcing Tulsa to punt on each of its fourth-quarter possessions and preserve the Rebels’ win.

The Aftermath

The win moved Ole Miss to 4-0 on the young season, and gave the team its 12th-consecutive home win. But the victory wasn’t one the Rebels spent much time celebrating.

In the locker room we weren’t very happy. That’s not the standard that we want to play at each and every day and we gotta come back and for this week coming up it’s a big one and it’s a huge step for our team as a whole.

Jaxson Dart

When we have somebody beat we’re supposed to knock them out, we’re supposed to finish them. We let them creep back in the game, that’s not our standard of football. We’re trying to become a championship program and we can’t let things like that happen.

Jonathan Mingo

Lane Kiffin, who has repeatedly asked fans to show up to the games, was not pleased with the turnout on Saturday. When asked how excited he was about the fans on Saturday, Kiffin responded with, “Were you at the game? I must’ve been at a different one.”

Kiffin was matter-of-fact when talking about the fans leaving the game at halftime.

When you don’t score in the second half, I’m not really up here to motivate the fans, I’ve gotta do a better job of motivating our players. We do that, and keep this longest win streak since [the 1940’s] at home, maybe they’ll be here next week.

Lane Kiffin

Looking Ahead

And next week won’t be easy. The Rebels will welcome No. 9 Kentucky into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday to start SEC play. The Wildcats are coming off a struggle win of their own, holding off Northern Illinois 31-23. The game will kick off at 11:00 a.m. on ESPN.

The Rebels haven’t played the Wildcats since 2020, a game which Ole Miss won 42-41 in overtime. The contest will also mark the first ever “Stripe Out” at The Vaught, with Ole Miss fans encouraged to wear either red or blue, depending on their section.

Jaxson Dart is now officially the starting quarterback as Coach Kiffin confirmed that in his postgame press conference. The Rebels will look to use this week to get the team healthy after being plagued by several injuries.

As always, stay tuned to The Rebel Walk for all of your Ole Miss updates.

(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)

Austin Eldridge
Austin Eldridge

Austin has more than ten years in sports media, including sports talk radio, play-by-play broadcasting and journalism. He has followed Ole Miss athletics for his entire life and has covered the Rebels and the rest of the SEC while working in the Memphis media market. Outside of sports media, Austin is a musician and outdoorsman. Before a serious accident forced him to be medically discharged, he was a multi-media journalist with the Mississippi National Guard.

About The Author

Austin Eldridge

Austin has more than ten years in sports media, including sports talk radio, play-by-play broadcasting and journalism. He has followed Ole Miss athletics for his entire life and has covered the Rebels and the rest of the SEC while working in the Memphis media market. Outside of sports media, Austin is a musician and outdoorsman. Before a serious accident forced him to be medically discharged, he was a multi-media journalist with the Mississippi National Guard.

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