With the memory of the 37-24 loss at the hands of the Memphis Tigers in 2015 fresh in the minds of Rebel Nation, Ole Miss (3-2) was able to defeat Memphis (3-1) Saturday night 48-28 in Oxford.
Ole Miss quickly jumped out to a 14-0 lead, thanks to a long drive resulting in a Jason Pellerin TD and a Zedrick Woods pick-six.
The Tigers were on the brink of being put away early in the 3rd quarter, as Akeem Judd was on his way into the end zone; however, he stepped out of bounds at the 3 yard line. From there the Rebels were held out of the end zone, and held to a 23 yard FG from Gary Wunderlich, bringing the score to 27-7.
With an efficient 7 play-75 yard drive, the Tigers cut the lead to 27-14.
An ill-advised throw by Chad Kelly on Ole Miss’ next possession, lead to another score for Memphis, and the lead was again trimmed to 27-21.
Rebel fans seemed to be stuck in a reoccurring nightmare as a big lead was beginning to slip away. In weeks past, the Rebels weren’t able to hold off Florida State or Alabama, but this week they were able to sustain drives, control the clock, and come with big plays when they needed to in order to hang on.
The return of the running game was a welcomed addition to the offense, finding creative ways to get Judd, Eugene Brazley and backup QB Jason Pellerin involved in the ground attack.
Judd and Brazley both had over 100 yards rushing, with Pellerin accounting for 2 TDs. This type of running game was able to take some of the pressure off of Chad Kelly, who at times early in the season has been forced to be a jack of all trades for the Ole Miss offense. Kelly thew for 361 yards and 1 TD while spreading the ball around to 7 different receivers.
The leading receiver for the Rebels was junior, Demore’ea Stringfellow with 6 catches for 94 yards.
While missed tackles by the Ole Miss defense led to sustained drives by the Memphis offense at times, the Rebels were able to come up turnovers and big stops to kill the Tigers’ offensive flow.
Ole Miss was able to win the turnover battle 4 to 1, and had a leg up in time of possession by just over four minutes, although 5 scoring drives were under 3 minutes long.
This game clearly could’ve been a trap game for the Rebels coming off of a difficult September schedule, however the Rebels were able to fight off the comeback attempt by Memphis throughout the game.
If the Rebels can continue to run the ball effectively, and avoid costly mistakes that leave the door open for opponents to get back in the game they should be in a good spot as they look to put early season struggles behind them.
A win against a quality opponent will give Ole Miss momentum heading into their bye week as they gear up for another slate of SEC match ups, beginning with another chance at revenge against Arkansas on October 15 in Fayetteville.
Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.