The future of Ole Miss football officially arrived in College Station on Saturday night. Forced into his first start some 10 months before it was expected, five-star freshman Shea Patterson led a dramatic comeback over No. 8 Texas A&M, bagging the Rebels’ fifth win of the season with a 29-28 W.
Down 21-6 entering the fourth quarter, Patterson led a dramatic comeback on the road in front of 100 thousand Aggie fans. He threw three fourth quarter touchdowns, then led the Rebels down the field for a game-winning field goal with just 37 seconds on the clock. The defense, which limited A&M to just 7 points in the second half, stiffened with a game-sealing interception to seal the deal.
Forced to forego his redshirt season by Chad Kelly’s season-ending knee injury, the country’s No. 1 quarterback prospect was everything Hugh Freeze could have hoped for, damn near knowing off the No. 8 team in the country by himself. Patterson threw for 338 yards, two touchdowns and one pick—246 yards and two scores in the second half.
For most of the game, Patterson was indeed by himself. The offensive line was a mess for the better part of three quarters, leaving its freshman quarterback scrambling for his life on nearly every drop back. The run game offered little reprieve, averaging just 3.2 yards per carry and leaving Patterson to deal with a ton of third and longs. Faced with withering pressure from A&M’s monstrous D-line, Patterson too often turned to his legs instead of keeping his eyes downfield, and his ugly third-quarter interception underscored the fact that he was making his first appearance as a college athlete.
But the freshman got better as the game went on, finding a groove in the fourth quarter. With the defense finally making stops, Patterson led four consecutive touchdown drives, then crushed downfield for a field goal to clinch the win.
It all began with this Manziel-like play on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Esse touchdown do Shea Patterson parece muito com o do Johnny Manziel contra Alabama em 2012 pic.twitter.com/V2PPNEv7Wt— NCAA Football Brasil (@CFB_Br) November 13, 2016
The following drives yielded an Akeem Judd touchdown run, a 32-yard dime from Patterson to Van Jefferson and the game-winning kick from Gary Wunderlich.
Ole Miss has suddenly gone from a disastrously disappointing 2016 season to a chance to clinch a bowl berth and head into a 2017 with a ton of momentum behind its quarterback of the future. It’s hard to understate the impact of Saturday night’s win in College Station.
In the meantime, Shea wants to stay on solid ground.