Four Down Territory: Ole Miss and LSU light it up; Warren Central, Alcorn keep streaks alive
You’re in Four Down Territory. Each week we’ll highlight four notes, stats and trends from the weekend that was in Mississippi high school football, college football and the NFL.
Ole Miss and LSU have been playing football against each other since 1894, and have played every year since 1945. In all that time, no game has had more offense than the one they played Saturday night.
The Rebels and Tigers combined for 95 points and 1,328 yards of total offense in LSU’s 58-37 victory in Oxford. It was the most combined points ever in 108 meetings between the teams, the third-most combined yards in Southeastern Conference history, and a slew of records fell and superlatives were set for both teams.
Ole Miss finished with 614 yards of total offense, its best output of the season, and 402 rushing yards. The latter is the most an LSU defense has allowed since at least 1960.
Rebels quarterback John Rhys Plumlee ran for 212 yards and four touchdowns to shatter the school’s single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback, as well as the record for most rushing yards by a freshman. Norris Weese had held the quarterback rushing record of 178 yards since 1972.
Plumlee is also the first quarterback to rush for more than 200 yards against a team ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll since Texas’ Vince Young did it in the 2006 Rose Bowl against Southern California.
LSU set its records through the air.
Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow threw two interceptions but did little to harm his Heisman Trophy hopes by completing 32 of 42 passes for 489 yards and five touchdowns. It was the second-highest single-game yardage total in LSU history, behind Rohan Davey’s 528 yards against Alabama in 2001.
Burrow did break Davey’s single-season record for passing yardage. He now has 3,687 yards. Davey had 3,347 yards set in 2001.
As a team, LSU finished with 714 total yards against Ole Miss, which was the second-highest single-game total in school history. The record is 746 yards set in 1977 against Rice.
LSU wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson also went over the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the season, becoming only the third set of teammates in SEC history to accomplish the feat. LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry did it in 2013, and Florida’s Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell in 2001.
“I don’t think we played our best game. The stats say otherwise, but offensively I don’t think we played our best game,” said LSU tight end Thaddeus Moss, who caught five passes for 63 yards. “That’s probably the biggest takeaway from this. You take all of these numbers and we didn’t even play our best ball. We have yet to play our best ball. We’ll watch film on Monday and get everything fixed before next week.”
Warren Central’s season ended with a 33-14 loss to Oxford in the first round of the MHSAA Class 6A playoffs on Friday. It was the second year in a row that the Vikings have lost in the first round, and extended their drought of not making it past the second round to 25 seasons.
The Vikings did, however, maintain their status as one of the top programs in one respect. They reached the playoffs for the eighth consecutive year, which is the fourth-longest active streak in Class 6A.
Only South Panola (18 years), Petal (12) and Brandon (10) have longer streaks.
Warren Central’s run that started in 2012 is also the best among its longer-tenured rivals in the highly competitive Region 2-6A. Madison Central (2014) and Starkville (2016) have both stayed home for the postseason more recently than have the Vikings.
South Panola is in its first season in Region 2-6A, and the bulk of its 18-year streak came in Region 1-6A.
The MAIS championship weekend is scheduled for Nov. 21-23 and, while Vicksburg’s teams did not make it this far, there are still plenty of ties to the city among the teams participating.
Two games kick things off Thursday, both at Jackson Academy. Briarfield Academy (11-1) takes on Prairie View (9-3) in the 8-Man Class 1A final at 3 p.m. The Class 4A title game with Riverfield Academy (12-0) vs. Tri-County (10-2) is at 7.
Briarfield and Riverfield, both located about 50 miles from Vicksburg in Lake Providence and Rayville, Louisiana, respectively, both have several players with family ties to the River City.
Greenville-St. Joseph (12-0), with Vicksburg native John Baker as head coach, will try to win its third consecutive title when it takes on Indianola Academy (9-4) in the Class 3A championship game at 3 p.m. Friday at Jackson Academy. Among the members of Indianola’s coaching staff is Kenny Strong, a former St. Aloysius assistant.
“I really enjoyed my time at St. Al and the people there,” Strong said Monday, at the MAIS championship game press conference in Jackson.
Jackson Prep (10-2) and Madison-Ridgeland Academy (11-2) will play in the Class 6A championship game Saturday at 6 p.m. at Mississippi College. It’s the fifth time in six seasons that those teams have played each other for a state title, and Jackson Prep is going for its eighth championship in a row. Vicksburg native and former Porter’s Chapel Academy head coach John Weaver is on MRA’s staff as its receivers coach.
Alcorn State beat Alabama A&M 34-28 on Saturday to clinch its sixth consecutive Southwestern Athletic Conference East Division championship. It will play either Southern University or Grambling in the conference championship game on Dec. 7, at a campus site to be determined. Alcorn would host if it beats Jackson State in its regular-season finale this Saturday.
Alcorn’s six consecutive division titles are a record in the championship game era that started in 1999, but only tied for second most ever. Grambling has won the West Division 10 times, and Southern has won it six times. One of those schools will add to its total after the Bayou Classic in New Orleans on Nov. 30.
Alabama A&M is tied with Alcorn in the East for most division titles, although its last one came in 2011.
Mississippi Valley State is the only one of the 10 SWAC teams that has never played in the championship game — or won a conference title prior to the championship game era.
Texas Southern made one championship game appearance, in 2010, but later vacated it because of NCAA violations.