Vanderbilt drops anchor on Rebels

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 20, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ralph Webb ran for 123 yards and three touchdowns, and Vanderbilt scored 31 straight points in beating Ole Miss 38-17 Saturday night to snap a three-game skid to the Rebels.

With the win, Vanderbilt (5-6, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) assured coach Derek Mason his best record yet in his third season. The Commodores now need a win in their regular season finale to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2013.

Ole Miss (5-6, 2-5) needs to beat Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl next Saturday in Oxford to qualify for a bowl for the fifth consecutive season. Vanderbilt was the first SEC opponent that Ole Miss played this season that hadn’t been ranked.

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“It’s something we were working toward for a long time,” Mason said after the game. “This group, I’m proud of them. I love them. We’re just a football team that’s trying to get better every day.”

Kyle Shurmur threw for 273 yards and two touchdowns, and the Commodores also had three sacks. Linebacker Zach Cunningham, the SEC’s leading tackler, recovered a fumble.

Ole Miss freshman quarterback Shea Patterson, so thrilling in rallying the Rebels to an upset at Texas A&M last week, struggled against Mason’s defense. Ole Miss had to settle for a field goal on the opening drive, and Patterson added touchdown passes to Akeem Judd and Evan Engram.

The Rebels were held to a season-low in points, and Jason Pellerin replaced Patterson for the final drive.

“We did the things that we were supposed to do,” Mason said.

The key play came within the opening minute of the third quarter and cost the Rebels their leading tackler, linebacker DeMarquis Gates, for a targeting penalty even though a flag wasn’t thrown.

The penalty was announced after the replay booth reviewed what appeared to be a fumble by Vanderbilt’s Donovan Tennyson off a double reverse recovered by Ole Miss defensive back Tony Conner, whose foot was out of bounds when he picked up the ball.

Vanderbilt finished off a 90-yard drive with Webb’s second TD, an 11-yard run, and a 21-10 lead.