Rebels run roughshod over Georgia
Published 7:54 pm Saturday, September 24, 2016
OXFORD (AP) — Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly faked the handoff and then took off running toward the end zone. A few seconds and 41 yards later, the quarterback had cruised through the middle of the Georgia defense and into the end zone untouched.
It was pretty much that easy for the Rebels all afternoon. Ole Miss finally built a lead it couldn’t give away.
No. 23 Ole Miss rolled to a 45-14 victory over No. 12 Georgia on Saturday, building a 31-0 lead by halftime and a 45-0 advantage by midway through the fourth quarter.
Kelly threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns. Ole Miss (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) broke a 10-game losing streak in the series dating to 1996.
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“I can’t think of a time in my lifetime where a team has done that to Georgia,” said Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze.
Kelly’s mistake-free performance is a good sign for the Rebels. He had thrown for 953 yards and 10 touchdowns in the first three games of the season, but costly turnovers against Florida State and Alabama were crucial in those losses.
Against Georgia, there were no such problems.
“Those losses are on me for turning the ball over,” Kelly said. “We’ve just got to keep on looking forward.”
Georgia (3-1, 1-1) lost its first game under new coach Kirby Smart and looked overmatched. To make matters worse, star running back Nick Chubb sprained an ankle in the second quarter and didn’t return.
Chubb had 57 yards rushing on 12 carries before he hurt his ankle. Smart said he wasn’t sure how about the severity of Chubb’s injury.
“I expected our team to come out and fight and play well. You never believe you are going to play like that,” Smart said. “I think that we did not respond well when they had success. Yet every other game so far we have responded. We did not get away with somethings defensively that we had in the past. They made the plays down the field when they had to.”
It was an impressive win for the Rebels, who have played some of their worst football this season after gaining big leads. Ole Miss led Florida State by 22 points and Alabama by 21 this season before losing both games.
“We’ve certainly had experiences that we should have learned from,” Freeze said.
Kelly was sharp from the opening series, completing 18 of 24 passes and adding the 41-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that was his last play of the afternoon. Tight end Evan Engram led the Rebels with six catches for 95 yards.
Ole Miss also ran for a season-high 180 yards. Derrick Jones returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.
“When we get in a rhythm, it’s hard for people to stop us,” Engram said.
Brian Herrien led the Bulldogs with 78 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Freshman quarterback Jacob Eason had a tough day, completing just 16 of 36 passes for 137 yards and an interception.
There are a lot of mistakes being made out there,” Smart said. “Lot of young guys making bad mistakes. They will have to grow up.”