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No. 12 Ole Miss Defeats Vanderbilt 33-7

Photo by Olivia Moore

A dominant first half helped Ole Miss football pick up its seventh victory of the season to cruise past Vanderbilt 33-7 on Homecoming Saturday night inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The Rebels are now 7-1 for the second straight season, the first time doing so since 1961 and 1962.

Celebrating Homecoming, No. 11 Ole Miss (7-1, 4-1 SEC) picked up its 24th win in their last 27 Homecoming matchups. The victory also marked head coach Lane Kiffin‘s 30th win at Ole Miss, making him the second-fastest head coach to 30 wins in Ole Miss history, trailing only Harry Mehre’s 38 games.

The Landshark defense was swarming all night, holding Vanderbilt (2-7, 0-5 SEC) to 229 yards of total offense, the fewest against an SEC opponent since holding Texas A&M to 192 on Oct. 24, 2015. The defensive line, led by Jared Ivey with 2.5 sacks, lived in the backfield, tying a season-high with five sacks and seven tackles for loss. In the secondary, Ole Miss also held Vanderbilt to just 60 yards passing, the fewest against an SEC opponent since stuffing Vanderbilt to 60 yards on Sept. 6, 2014. Trey Washington helped stifle the passing attack, finishing with a career-best two interceptions and marking the first time Ole Miss has recorded three consecutive games with multiple picks since the 2014 season.

Offensively, quarterback Jaxson Dart passed for 240 yards, eclipsing the 5,000-yard mark in his Ole Miss career and the 10th most by a Rebel quarterback in program history. Wideout Dayton Wade hauled in eight passes for a career-high 120 yards and a touchdown. The senior also topped the 1,000-yard mark in his career along with teammate Jordan Watkins, who passed 1,000 receiving yards at Ole Miss. Quinshon Judkins powered the ground game with 124 of the team’s 177 yards, moving into sixth all-time at Ole Miss in rushing.

The Homecoming Party started early in Oxford, as the Rebels scored on their first five drives of the game and held Vanderbilt to 82 yards in the first half, only allowing the Commodores to have one play on Ole Miss’ side of the field. After electing to receive the opening kickoff, Dart completed all three of his passes, and Judkins strolled into the end zone from 18 yards out as the offense quickly marched 75 yards down the field in six plays and under two minutes. With a 7-0 lead, the defense went to work. Ivey picked up his fourth sack of the season, and Washington picked off his second pass on the year. Caden Davis and the Rebels capitalized on the turnover and field position, connecting on a 27-yard field goal to add to the lead.

The strong defensive play continued for Ole Miss, forcing its first punt of the night. Following a 19-yard return from Jordan Watkins, Judkins burst up the middle for a 40-yard gain, his longest of the year. Miscues stalled the drive, but Davis was still able to put points on the board, drilling a 48-yard field goal to give Ole Miss a 13-0 lead as the first quarter winded down.

Cedric Johnson opened the second quarter with his 17th career sack, forcing a three-and-out and moving him into a tie for seventh all-time at Ole Miss. Back to work on offense, Dart connected with Dayton Wade on the deep ball for a 48-yard gain and pushed his way in for the score from a yard out on fourth and goal.

With Vanderbilt struggling to move the ball on Ole Miss’ stingy defense, it attempted a fake punt on their own 30-yard line. The Rebels sniffed out the fake punt, and Tyler Banks forced a fumble to set the offense up with another scoring opportunity. Five plays and two minutes later, Dart hit Wade alone in the back corner of the end zone to make it 26-0. With the touchdown reception, Wade crossed the century mark on the night, and Dart moved into a tie for ninth all-time with 42 career scores at Ole Miss. Both teams traded punts in the final seven minutes of the half, and Ole Miss took a 26-point lead into the locker room.

The third quarter started with the best drive of the night for the Commodores, however, it was cut short by Washington, who stepped in front of a pass and snatched his second interception of the night. The Rebels couldn’t capitalize on the takeaway after turning the ball over on downs just outside the red zone. Vanderbilt embarked on a 5:30, 65-yard scoring drive to get on the board and make it 26-7 before the quarter came to a close.

Following a couple of quiet drives on offense, Dart and the Rebels took advantage of great field position thanks to a pair of sacks from Ivey and JJ Pegues. The running back duo of Ulysses Bentley IV and Judkins, combined with a scramble from Dart, picked up 39 of the drive’s 47 yards on the ground before Judkins cashed in his second rushing touchdown of the night to make it 33-7 and cap the scoring. The score also marked the 25th of the sophomore’s career, tied for the fourth most by any player to wear a Rebel uniform.

Ole Miss is back at home next weekend with an SEC West showdown against Texas A&M (5-3, 3-2 SEC) next Saturday, Nov. 5. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CT at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and live on ESPN. SEC Nation will also air live from The Grove, beginning with Marty & McGee at 8 a.m. CT and SEC Nation at 9 a.m. CT.

Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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