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Ole Miss Defeats Arkansas 27-20

Photo by Carleigh Harbin

A week after the Ole Miss offense put on a show under the lights at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, the Rebel defense stepped up with an excellent effort of their own en route to a 27-20 victory over Arkansas in front of another sold-out crowd on Saturday night.
The Rebels (5-1, 2-1 SEC) held Arkansas (2-4, 0-3 SEC) to 288 total yards of offense, the fewest for Ole Miss against an SEC opponent since 2019. That includes just 36 yards on the ground, the fewest yielded by the Rebels against an SEC opponent since holding Tennessee to zero on Oct. 18, 2014. Ole Miss’ defense shined all around, finishing with a season-high five sacks and two interceptions, first by senior Ashanti Cistrunk in the first quarter and then by senior John Saunders Jr. to seal the game in the fourth.
Offensively, the ground game of Quinshon Judkins and Ulysses Bentley IV led the way for Ole Miss, combining for 159 yards and a pair of scores. Quarterback Jaxson Dart completed 16 passes for 153 yards, including a six-yard touchdown pass to Dayton Wade.
Arkansas struck first after an Ole Miss three-and-out. The Rebels responded on the ensuing drive, marching 66 yards to put points on the board. Caden Davis converted a 27-yard field goal with 2:47 to play in the first quarter to make it 7-3.
After allowing the Razorbacks to score on their first possession, the Ole Miss defense started to settle in. Cistrunk picked off KJ Jefferson at the 31-yard line and returned it inside the 10, putting his offense on the doorstep. Four plays later, Judkins cashed in the takeaway, running in the score from one yard out to make it 10-7. It marked his sixth rushing touchdown of the season and the 22nd of the his career, moving him into a tie for fifth all-time in program history.
The Rebel defense continued to cause fits in the second quarter. They forced four straight Arkansas punts, including a trio of three-and-outs, to flip the field. J.J. Pegues and Suntarine Perkins both found their way into the backfield, recording key sacks. Set up with excellent field position, two big burst runs from Bentley quickly moved Ole Miss inside the red zone. Dart capped off the drive with a 6-yard pop pass to Wade, who trotted into the end zone to extend the Rebels’ lead to 10 at 17-7 going into halftime.
On the opening drive of the third quarter, Arkansas drilled a 56-yard field goal to make it a one-score game. The Razorbacks turned up the pressure on Ole Miss, sacking Dart on fourth down to get the ball back. The Rebel defense held strong inside the red zone, though, limiting the damage to a field goal as Arkansas cut the Ole Miss lead to 17-13 with the quarter winding down.
The Razorbacks opened the scoring in the fourth quarter with a 72-yard touchdown drive to take a 20-17 lead over Ole Miss. After being held to 28 yards in the third quarter, the Rebels put together a gritty scoring drive on the ground. Ole Miss’ running back duo accounted for 61 yards as the Rebels answered with a 7-yard rushing score by Bentley to retake the lead at 24-20. The stingy Landshark Defense forced another three-and-out after a big sack by Cistrunk on third and short. Looking to put the game away, Dart led another impressive drive down the field, resulting in a 22-yard field goal by Davis with 2:43 remaining in the game.
With one more shot, the Arkansas offense took the field. The Razorbacks managed to pick up a first down, but Ole Miss’ defense stepped up one final time to put the game away. John Saunders Jr. jumped in front of the route over the middle and picked off Jefferson to seal the victory.
Ole Miss heads into its bye week with a 5-1 record and a 2-1 mark in SEC play. The Rebels are back on the gridiron on October 21 at Auburn.

Courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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