Ole Miss football wore the best uniforms in college football and earned its third win of the season 59-42 over South Carolina on Saturday.
The evening began with more trouble in the secondary and the defense couldn’t stop wide receiver Shi Smith, who hauled in an incredible touchdown grab that both sides of fandom can appreciate.
Anyway, the offense took over and looked efficient. Jerrion Ealy and Elijah Moore virtually traded plays down the field and Matt Corral mixed in a banger of a keeper in between. There isn’t a grittier quarterback in the country.
Corral finished off the 14-play possession with a quick slant over the middle to Big John Drummond for six. Luke Logan made the extra point to tie the game! Everybody say it together... HUZZAH!
As D.J. Durkin and Chris Partridge’s group went back out, one of the brightest spots on the defensive unit made a big play. South Carolina quarterback Collin Hill lobbed one up to his go-to target and Finley made a great read to pick it off. He consistently looks like a rising NFL talent.
Former DB at St. Paul’s A.J. Finley with an impressive interception for the Ole Miss Rebels vs South Carolina.— Pigskin Pete (@pigskinwnsp) November 15, 2020
The sophomore appeared in all 12 games last year for the Rebels. @spsmobile_al #OleMiss pic.twitter.com/aqUSNRDntM
With the ball back in his hands, Corral found Moore for two big 20+ yard completions to knock on the door. The first came on fourth-and-8 (Lane Kiffin elected to go for it once again, praise all things holy) and it was astonishing how open the should-be Biletnikoff Award frontrunner was on fourth down. The second grab set up a first-and-goal at the three.
Snoop Conner and his quarterback sold the option so well that even the camera guy lost track of the ball. Corral kept it around the corner and scored.
Logan made the point after and the Rebels were ahead 14-7. HUZZAH!
The lead didn’t last long as the defense did not have an answer for Gamecocks running back Kevin Harris. Ole Miss had not seen a fullback since LSU in 2018 and it showed as South Carolina shoved the ball down its throat.
It was tied at 14 after the first possession of the second quarter but Ealy got loose for 39 yards and showed off his hands on a beautifully placed lob pass on the wheel route.
As South Carolina tried to punch it in at the goal line on the next drive, backup quarterback Deshaun Fenwick came in and appeared to have lost a fumble inside the five. The runner was called down and the play was not overturned.
It was probably a fumble and the Rebels recovered, but the SEC is going to SEC and it resulted in points. Not worth the breath. Ole Miss went to the locker room with a 24-21 lead after Logan hit a 21-yard triple before the half. HUZZAH!
Braylon Sanders and Dontario Drummond got in the mix with catches to open the second half, and Snoop Conner punched it in from two yards out, giving his team a 10-point advantage. The offense continues to have everything firing on all cylinders and there isn’t much to worry about. Nick Broeker is a stud at left tackle, Ben Brown and Royce Newman have done a fantastic job up front, Corral has plenty of time to throw darts to his multiple receiving weapons, and Conner, Ealy and Henry Parrish Jr. run strong behind the Big Uglies. To tie all of the talent together, Kiffin and Jeff Lebby’s play calling is creative, methodical and effective.
On the other side of the ball, however, the run defense is Swiss cheese. South Carolina scored on back-to-back possessions after forcing Ole Miss to punt and went ahead 35-31. Harris scored his fourth rushing touchdown from 44 yards out and eclipsed the 200-yard mark before the final fifteen minutes.
You know what would be good is not giving up 30 on the ground every play.— Tinker, Tailor, Black Bear, Landshark (@TwoYdsandaCloud) November 15, 2020
The good thing is, for every touchdown scored by the visitors, the powder blue boys had an answer. Anchored by a 57-yard bomb to Sanders, a four-play, 75-yard possession was capped off by a slippery 12-yard Ealy scamper. Sanders had himself a career night and finished with 141 yards. Shoutout to the senior. Well deserved.
South Carolina took over in the fourth quarter down 35-38 and ran the ball.
BUT IT WAS TIME TO GO STREAKING!!
On the second play of the next drive, Corral found Moore wide open over the middle for the longest play in school history and a touchdown. Kiffin knew it was good right away.
Perhaps the biggest moment of the game followed the deep-ball touchdown. The defense, which struggled mightily all night, stepped up. It held Harris for four yards on his first attempt, stuffed him on second-and-6, and sacked Hill for a loss of five to force a punt. Ryder Anderson and Lakia Henry were in on the action.
With an opportunity to take the momentum in full force, Ealy skipped into paydirt on the end of an eight-play, 80-yard drive. Every play set up the next and the foot never came off of the gas. And the defense continued that notion with a four-play turnover on downs.
Durkin and Partridge’s unit made a statement and let Corral cook again.
He broke Ole Miss’ single-game passing record with 514 yards and four touchdowns on 32 attempts and all but sealed the win by finding Moore for the duo’s second score of the evening.
If the touchdown didn’t put the nail in the coffin, the Landsharks did. They earned their nickname and kept the Gamecocks out of the end zone on four consecutive downs after they set up a first-and-goal from the 5-yard-line.
The win is the third of the season for Ole Miss and quite frankly, outside of the inability to stop the run for most of the night, it was a solid victory all around. Corral and the offense was on fire and the defense did its job when it mattered most. Texas A&M, is next, but the Aggies are dealing with COVID-19 concerns and next week is trending toward an impromptu bye week.