In front of a sold out Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Ole Miss clung on to victory in another exhilarating game in Oxford.
It was another Ole Miss football game that will be added to the memory box. However, it didn’t start that way. After both defences stood firm on opening possessions, the first big call came on a 4th and 1 for Lane Kiffin. On their own 42, Kiffin decided to roll the dice early with big DT JJ Pegues making the 1 yard gain for the first down.
The play gave the Rebels the momentum to go quick tempo, as a few plays later Dart dropped a 39 yard pass in the hands of Tre Harris. With Judkins following that up with a 9 yard TD run, gliding in to the end zone untouched.
The crowd in Oxford was in good voice, helping force the Aggie offense into a couple of false start penalties, offsetting some positive plays.
Despite the Rebels offense struggling, the defense came to play in the first half. Numerous QB pressures, big hits and a potential interception chance dropped in the first quarter.
There was a scare when Jaxon Dart went down injured after taking a shot. Dart was hit in the lower leg whilst getting the pass off to Judkins.
Sanders came in for a play, handing it off to Judkins, who made a big 18 yard run to get the Rebs into the red zone. Dart came back into the game and on the second play, he hit Tre Harris in the corner of the end zone for the TD and a 14-0 lead.
Tre Harris had himself a day, catching 11 passes for 213 yards and one touchdown.
With the game looking like a stroll for the Rebels, it was blown up via a strange minute of plays. Numerous penalties on Ole Miss offset a TD and knocked them out of the red zone, resulted in a field goal attempt. Caden Davis saw his attempt blocked by Shemar Turner and returned for a Aggies TD by Jacoby Mathews.
Ole Miss made sure any momentum gained was extinguished with a quick 4 play scoring drive, with the TD a sneaky trick play call from Kiffin. Receiver Jordan Watkins looked like he was being subbed off. However, he stayed on the field with the Aggies not picking up on the receiver near the sideline. Dart got the ball to him quickly and away he went into the end zone.
A&M cut the lead again, when running back Le’Veon Moss rushed for a 13 yard TD with 1:44 left in the 2nd quarter. It was the first time the offense had been in the red zone. That was the last meaningful action of the half, with Ole Miss leading 20-10.
After a first possession that took off nearly 7 minutes of the game clock, Max Johnson was picked off by John Saunders Jr in the end zone. Johnson was rushed into making a decision, with him deciding to make the throw towards his receiver, to the annoyance of HC Jimbo Fisher.
It got worse for the Aggies as Ole Miss took just 4 plays to get themselves into the end zone, Judkins again rushing in for the score. Tre Harris then caught a pass for the 2 point conversion, making it 28-14 to the Rebels.
It was one of two blows on the possession for the Aggies, that also saw talented DL Shemar Turner ejected from the game, appearing to throw punches at OL Micah Pettus. Lane Kiffin making sure the officials were aware from the sideline.
Texas A&M reduced the lead to a one score game on the following possession. Max Johnson found his brother Jake wide open for a TD in the corner. The momentum seemed to be shifting in favour of the visitors to Oxford.
However, not for the first time, Tre Harris set them up in the red zone again. This time it was a highlight reel one handed grab, while managing get one foot down on the side line. This time Ole Miss had to settle for a field goal from the foot of Caden Davis.
Despite the good first half display from the defense, they could not force a stop again in the second half. This time it was Amari Daniels who smashed into the end zone from the 1 yard line.
The crowd in Oxford fell quite after the offense failed to get down the field to answer the TD. It got worse, as the Aggies got the ball down to the 1 yard line, with QB Max Johnson reaching over the goal line for the TD. It was the first lead of the day for Jimbo Fisher’s team, making it 35-31 with over 4 minutes of play left in the game.
However, superheroes don’t always wear capes. Although, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Tre Harris and Quinshon Judkins had one at home. Both players made crucial plays on the next drive, with the sophomore RB grabbing his third rushing TD of the day. A 3 point lead for the Rebels with 1:40 left on the clock.
Time for the defense to make a stand, something they hadn’t done in the second half. When it looked like the Aggies were about to score their 4th touchdown on their fifth second half possession, the Rebels defense forced a field goal attempt.
Deantre Prince made the partial block, with the ball falling short of the goalposts. With that, Ole Miss escaped with a victory to the delight of the fans in Oxford and Lane Kiffin, who praised his players at the end of the game.
On to one of the biggest games in Ole Miss History next week, on the road in Athens to face current champions Georgia.