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Ole Miss Defense Swarms, Rebels Stay Undefeated With 22-19 Win Over No. 7 Kentucky

Ole Miss Defense Swarms, Rebels Stay Undefeated With 22-19 Win Over No. 7 Kentucky

Oxford, Miss. – Vaught-Hemingway Stadium was electric, striped out in alternating sections of red and navy blue, and No. 14 Ole Miss gave the sellout crowd a show, knocking off No. 7 Kentucky by a final of 22-19.

It was the Rebels’ defense that came up biggest, forcing two fumbles late to seal the win. The game saw a little bit of everything, from great running backs, great defense, a safety, and even some fraternity fights in the stands.

The victory marked the 13th consecutive home win for Ole Miss and the Rebels’ 9th-straight, regular-season win.

High Octane

As has continued to be the case each week, Ole Miss doesn’t mess around offensively to start ballgames. The Rebels wasted little time for their opening score, with Zach Evans punching it in from four yards out to give Ole Miss a 7-0 lead.

Also continuing with the trend, true freshman running back Quinshon Judkins wasn’t to be outdone by his running mate, as he left multiple Wildcats in his wake en route to a 48 yard touchdown scamper to put the Rebels up two scores.

Some Extra Special Special Teams

Ole Miss has playmakers all over the field this season, but the under-the-radar storyline of their season so far has been on special teams.

Kentucky scored its first touchdown of the game at the end of the first quarter on a Chris Rodriguez ten-yard run, but the Rebels blocked the point after to keep the score 14-6.

The Rebels would then pin Kentucky at their own one-yard line following an incredible punt from Australian punter Fraser Masin. That would lead to the Land Shark defense showing up for its first huge play of the afternoon.

Jonathan Cruz would tack on a 53-yard field goal on the Rebels’ next possession to make it 19-6.

Defense Wins Championships

Ole Miss saw significant improvement defensively in 2021 under co-defensive coordinator DJ Durkin, but the 2022 squad under Chris Partridge may be even better.

Kentucky was able to tie the game up at 19 on the Wildcats’ first drive of the second half, but the Ole Miss defense would be swarming the entire second half, particularly in the fourth quarter.

With just over 3:00 remaining in the game, the Wildcats were driving and had the ball at the Ole Miss 19 on third down. As Will Levis attempted to scramble for the first down himself, Austin Keys stepped up and knocked the ball free, and AJ Finley would recover the fumble.

But if that play was big, the one Jared Ivey made just one possession later was enormous. After the Rebels were forced to punt back to the Wildcats, Kentucky was able to complete a 51-yard strike to Barion Brown to get the football inside the Ole Miss 10.

After a penalty negated what would’ve been a go-ahead touchdown for the ‘Cats, Jared Ivey stepped up and forced yet another fumble, recovered by the Rebels’ Tavius Robinson, and that would seal the three-point victory.

I play against them every single day, countless two minute drills against them. They’re so hard to drive down against in two minutes even in practice. I know if it’s tough for our offense to do that then it’s going to be really tough for another team’s offense to do it, so I had all the confidence in the world that we were going to find a way.”

Ole Miss QB Jaxson Dart on his team’s defensive performance

By The Numbers

It was once again the running game of Quinshon Judkins that defined the Ole Miss offense in this one, with the freshman stud racking up 106 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown. Zach Evans also punched in a touchdown on the ground.

Jaxson Dart was able to open up the passing game a bit more as well, going 15/29 for 213 yards. His lone big mistake came at the end of the first half as he telegraphed a throw that was intercepted by former Rebel Jacquez Jones.

The Ole Miss defense held the Wildcats to just 108 total yards on the ground, even with the return of Chris Rodriguez Jr. on the other side. Rodriguez tallied just 72 yards on 19 carries. Will Levis managed 220 yards through the air on 18/24 passing with a couple of touchdowns.

Now That’s An SEC Atmosphere

After weeks of Lane Kiffin calling on the crowd to show up, they made him proud in today’s game.

The Rebels put on their first ever “stripe-out,” divvying fans up into sections of either red or navy blue. The game was a sellout and the fans were loud the entire game, and the stadium appeared just as full in the second half as it did in the first.

 

The crowd was awesome today. Who knows, was that false start at the end because of the crowd, did it help us win the game? Very well could’ve, so that was awesome to see.

Coach Lane Kiffin

Jaxson Dart was also impressed, saying “I’ve never played in a game this big or in front of a crowd or an atmosphere like this. It was definitely an experience I’ll forever remember.”

What’s Up Next?

After getting the top ten victory today, Ole Miss heads to Nashville next weekend for a date with the Vanderbilt Commodores, the Rebels’ first road matchup in SEC play of the season.

The Commodores are 3-2 on the season and 0-1 in SEC play, losing to Alabama 55-3 last weekend. They have a week off this week, giving them an extra week to get healthy and prepare for the Ole Miss offensive attack. The game will begin at 3:00 p.m. and will air on the SEC Network.

(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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