Saturday was supposed to be the return of Laremy Tunsil, but it was the Ole Miss ‘Landshark’ defense who stole the show.
The swarming Rebel ‘D’ limited Texas A&M to just 192 yards of total offense and three points, as No. 23 Ole Miss knocked off the No. 15-ranked Aggies 23-3 in front of a sellout crowd of 60,674 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Ole Miss harassed Aggie quarterback Kyle Allen all night, holding him to 12-of-34 passing for just 88 yards and one pick. Allen missed on 14-straight passes over the second and third quarters, and was sacked one time. Texas A&M was just 6-of-20 on third down and rushed 27 times for only 58 yards.
“The preparation was a bit different,” said Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze. “Your back is against the wall and you have the hear all the noise. There are people that criticize fairly or unfairly, and you have to handle that and go and fight. I think we practiced differently, maybe it was their focus, maybe we coached them better, but it’s a combination of them all.”
Junior signal caller Chad Kelly threw for 241 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 26-of-41 passing. The Rebels rushed for 240 yards, including 97 yards on 22 carries from junior Jaylen Walton.
“I’m extremely proud of our kids and coaches,” Freeze said. “During adversity in life you find out a lot about people, everyone, you find out who is really who. That is what we challenged our kids with this week. We said if you play out of love and passion for 60 minutes, then that will be good enough at the end of the day for us.
Ole Miss got on the scoreboard in the first quarter after Kelly capped a 79-yard scoring drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Evan Engram that put the Rebels up 7-0 with 2:33 to go in the opening frame. Engram posted four receptions for 35 yards and a score and passed Jim Poole for the most career receiving yards by a tight end in school history with 1, 126 yards.
Sophomore Gary Wunderlich added a 41-yard field goal minutes into the second quarter that put Ole Miss up 10-0. On the ensuing Texas A&M possession, senior C.J. Johnson forced an Aggie fumble and recovered it at the Texas A&M 33-yard line and Wunderlich added a another field goal, this time from 30 yards out, to give the Rebels a 13-0 lead midway through second quarter.
Ole Miss looked to gain control of the game in the second quarter after Kelly found Quincy Adeboyejo wide open over the middle for a 47-yard TD strike, but the play was called back due to a chop block. Aggie defensive end Miles Garrett then batted Kelly’s next pass up in the air and intercepted it to set A&M up at the Ole Miss 33. The Rebel defense stiffened and held Texas A&M to a 44-yard field goal that pulled the Aggies within 13-3 with 2:27 left in the half.
After turnovers on three straight plays with under two minutes to go in the half – an A&M muffed punt, an Ole Miss fumble and an A&M interception – Wunderlich kicked his third field goal of the half from 20 yards out to give the Rebels a 16-3 halftime lead.
The Rebels put the Aggies away early in the third frame when Kelly hit Laquon Treadwell for a 58-yard touchdown bomb that put Ole Miss up 23-3 with 9:16 left in the quarter. Treadwell finished the game with five catches for 102 yards and a touchdown, his seventh career 100-yard receiving game.
Next up, Ole Miss travels to the Plains to face the Auburn Tigers Saturday. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. and will be televised on ESPN.
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports