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Chad Kelly will have an MRI on his injured knee

Well this isn’t good.

NCAA Football: Georgia Southern at Mississippi Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The last thing a struggling Ole Miss team can afford is the loss of star quarterback Chad Kelly, who didn’t return to the field after limping off during the third quarter against Georgia Southern. Hugh Freeze confirmed to reporters that Kelly suffered a knee injury and will undergo an MRI.

Kelly had already piled 226 yards passing and three total touchdowns when a defender sprinted through the middle of the line and delivered a high, hard shot just after Chad delivered a pass early in the third quarter. Kelly lined up for the next play, but had to call a timeout and walk gingerly to the sideline. He made a brief trip to the locker room before returning to the sidelines, where he sat without a helmet for the rest of the game.

Redshirt freshman Jason Pellerin, who’s been used as a change-of-pace runner but had only thrown eight passes coming into the game, replaced Kelly. He went just 1-of-5, though a pair of key drops by his receivers and conservative, run-heavy play calling had a lot to do with that stat line. The Rebels do have the country’s top quarterback recruit in freshman Shea Patterson, but Hugh Freeze is trying to get him through a redshirt year.

“You hope you recruited some people behind your starter, and obviously we’ve got one here (Patterson) that we think’s going to be really good also,” Freeze said during his postgame press conference. “But there’s three games left in the season, and you certainly don’t want to pull that redshirt.”

Freeze said that Pellerin would get the starting reps in practice this week of Kelly can’t go.

Kelly wasn’t the only Rebel to go down against Georgia Southern—senior defensive end John Youngblood was carted off the field in an air cast in the first quarter.