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No. 14 Ole Miss Storms Past Fresno State 73-21

CJ Johnson intercepts a pass thrown by the Fresno State quarterback. Photo courtesy of Joshua McCoy / Ole Miss Athletics
CJ Johnson intercepts a pass thrown by the Fresno State quarterback. Photo courtesy of Joshua McCoy / Ole Miss Athletics

Ole Miss scored 76 points last week against UT Martin and quarterback Chad Kelly set out Saturday to prove that wasn’t a fluke.

The junior signal caller directed the Rebels on seven-straight touchdown drives to start the game, as Ole Miss cruised to a 73-21 victory over Fresno State in front of 60,302 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Kelly completed 20-of-25 attempts for 346 yards and four touchdowns of 14, 16, 44 and 50 yards, and added 26 yards and a rushing score on the ground. It was the most yards passing for a Rebel QB since Bo Wallace threw for 387 yards against Boise State in the season opener last year.

““Chad (Kelly) likes to stay on schedule,” said Rebel head coach Hugh Freeze. “That is what I always meant for us to do last year, but we did not do that. You could argue that the tempo was really good for most of the year. We enjoy moving the ball fast. Chad does it well. All of our kids enjoy it and it was very efficient early on. I don’t have a drive chart in front of me, but our first five or six drives were great and we looked like we were in pretty good shape.”

Through the first two games of the year the Rebels have scored 149 points – the most in a two game stretch in school history – and have averaged 634.5 yards of offense.

“I thought we did well, there were some things that I thought we could have done better,” Kelly said. “I could have had better moves on the field. I think we definitely did well. Any time you score 70 points is a great day. The defense did a great job and the offensive line did a tremendous job, as well.”

Ole Miss took the opening kickoff and went 85 yards in 10 plays capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass from Kelly to senior wide out Cody Core. Following a Fresno State three-and-out, the Rebels took over on their own 41 and took just five plays to go 59 yards for another score – a four-yard scoring rush up the middle by Kelly – that put Ole Miss up 14-0 with 8:26 left in the opening quarter.

The Rebels tacked on two more scores in the quarter on a pair of passing TDs from Kelly to Quincy Adeboyejo from 16 and 50 yards to go up 28-0. The 28 points was the most in an opening quarter in Ole Miss modern history (since 1962) surpassing last week’s mark of 27 points.

After Fresno picked off sophomore Ryan Buchanan and returned it 56 yards for a score, Kelly re-entered the game and found Adeboyejo for the third time in the first half on a 44-yard TD strike. Adeboyejo finished the game with five catches for a career-high 120 yards and three scores.

““Chad (Kelly’s) deep balls are one of the better balls I’ve ever encountered from high school and since I’ve been here,” Adeboyejo said. “He just has really good touch on his deep balls.”

The Ole Miss defense limited Fresno State to just 316 yards and forced four Bulldog turnovers, including a pair of interception returns for TDs.

Junior defensive star Robert Nkemdiche scored a TD in his second-straight game, this time a one-yard plunge up the middle on the Rebels’ opening drive of the second half, making it 42-14 Ole Miss. Senior Trae Elston picked off Bulldog QB Chason Virgil and returned it 38 yards for a score to make it 49-14 early in the third quarter. It was Elston’s second-consecutive game with a pick-six.

Junior Akeem Judd continue the scoring with a 27-yard touchdown run before Eugene Brazley added a 6-yard scoring run of his own in the fourth quarter to put the Rebels up 66-21. Senior Chief Brown picked off Ford Childress and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown for Ole Miss’ final sore of the game.

Ole Miss travels to No. 2 Alabama next Saturday for a showdown with the Crimson Tide. The game will be televised on ESPN with an 8:15 p.m. kickoff.

Story courtesy UM Athletics

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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