Ole Miss and Kentucky went blow-for-blow in Lexington on Saturday evening, and the Rebs edged out a 37-34 thanks to a game-winning pass from Jordan Ta’amu to D.K. Metcalf in the closing seconds of the game. It was wild and wonderful.
The first half featured sizable offense for both sides coupled with very little defense. Each scored on their respective opening drives — a field goal for Kentucky, touchdown for Ole Miss — and from there the race was on until halftime. By the time the recess bell sounded, the Wildcats held a 20-17 advantage, and Jordan Ta’amu had accrued 178 yards on 14-of-18 completions and two touchdown passes.
Kentucky wasted no time in pulling out to a 10-point advantage in round three, launching off a large touchdown pass to their tight end to pull the score up to 27-17. Ole Miss stuttered around on the ensuing drive and couldn’t produce anything, but they did force a punt on Kentucky’s next possession to get the ball back. Yes, you read that right.
On the drive that followed, however, Ole Miss steered its way into the red zone with the help of AJ Brown and Jordan Wilkins, then incurred back-to-back procedural penalties on third down and couldn’t convert. That allowed only a field goal on that occasion, which was at least relieving, given they tried like hell to penalize themselves out of Gary Wunderlich’s range. They somehow forced another punt on Kentucky’s following possession. Again, yes, you read that right.
At any rate, Kentucky ironed out their troubles and came right back at Ole Miss in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats managed a late touchdown to bring the score to 34-30 with 2:14 remaining, and suddenly the two-minute drill was on for Ta’amu.
In perhaps some of the most chaotic football I’ve ever watched — what with weird timeout calls and a fumble review — Ole Miss walked down the field to Kentucky’s seven yard line, whence Ta’amu tossed a beautiful and heavenly rainbow to D.K. Metcalf for the game winning score. Game, good guys.
What exactly was the offensive game plan in the first half?
Things that were working well — like running the ball over throwing it — got scrapped for things that didn’t work well. Even within the running game, jumbo packages got thrown out there and Ole Miss ain’t a power run team, even against a team like Kentucky.
Much credit is due to Ta’amu, though, who’s wise and athletic enough to get himself out a jam in more cases that he isn’t, and certainly enhances his game. In fact, one of our writers posed the question in our digital newsroom: is Ta’amu actually good? We’ll have to wait and see.
Here are four quick takeaways from Saturday’s game in Lexington.
For all of the criticism of Matt Luke, he’s pulled these guys together, and they still play.
DID YOU SEE THAT FINAL DRIVE? This team wanted to win, and they did. Luke called a bad timeout at an inopportune time, but Kentucky essentially handed them a timeout when a player went down with an injury and forced a medical timeout. Further, Ta’amu just straight flew through the air on the game-winning drive, and Luke got doused with Gatorade as the final whistle blew. Sure, it’s Kentucky, but they fought, man, and that’s really uplifting to watch in real time.
What happened on defense when Kentucky scored at the end of the first half?
Ole Miss dropped into the prevent defense far too early in the drive and got burned bad for it. Then their ability to contain the run on the Wildcats’, er, wildcat set touchdown to go up three fell apart entirely. They were continually swallowed up at the line of scrimmage, which continued into Kentucky’s first drive of the second half, which ended with a huge touchdown pass down the seam to their FREAKING TIGHT END.
Van Jefferson got to shoot dice with his pals after scoring a touchdown.
This is wonderful:
NAILED IT pic.twitter.com/yF8DYCbXZf— ICE AGE COMETH (@RebelSandman) November 4, 2017
Great game, guys.