No. 22 Ole Miss was outscored 17-0 in the second half as No. 23 LSU handed the Rebels a 38-21 setback Saturday night in the Magnolia Bowl at Tiger Stadium. After going into the half tied at 21-21, the Rebels (3-4, 1-3 SEC) could not overcome a big night by LSU running back Leonard Fournette and a Tigers (5-2, 3-1 SEC) defense that stepped up in the final 30 minutes of play.
Fournette finished the game with 284 yards on the ground, and LSU defense limited the high-powered Ole Miss offense to 325 yards. Senior quarterback Chad Kelly once again led the Rebels through the air and on the ground. The Buffalo, New York, native threw for 209 yards on 19 of 32 passing, while rushing for 56 yards on 12 carries. His favorite receivers were Damore’ea Stringfellow and Van Jefferson, who caught four passes apiece. Stringfellow totaled a game-high 92 yards receiving, and Jefferson added 43 yards and a touchdown.
For the Landshark defense, junior defensive end Marquis Haynes had another huge game that included a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. The Rebels recorded a season-high 10.0 tackles for loss, led by career highs from Temario Strong (2.5) and Detric Bing-Dukes (2.0). Bing-Dukes also posted a team-best eight tackles.
After forcing a three-and-out the Rebels scored on their opening drive for the sixth time this season. Highlighted by a 50-yard pass to Stringfellow, Kelly led Ole Miss 77 yards down the field. The Ole Miss quarterback completed 3-of-4 passes on the drive, including the 15-yard touchdown toss to Van Jefferson. On third down, the redshirt freshman settled down in an opening in the middle of the field. Kelly found Jefferson, and the wideout reversed field to streak to the pylon. The 2:12 drive put the Rebels on the board first.
The Landshark defense came up big once again, limiting the Tigers to three plays before another punt. Ole Miss quickly entered LSU territory and field goal range as Gary Wunderlich booted a season-long 46-yard field goal. With 4:48 remaining in the opening quarter, the Rebels held a double-digit lead, 10-0.
LSU produced its third straight three-play drive but this time found the end zone. A 21-yard pass on 2nd-and-15 gave the Tigers some momentum. On the next play, Leonard Fournette rumbled 59 yards for a touchdown to cut the Rebels’ advantage to three.
Using seven plays, the Tigers went 97 yards to take their first lead of the game at the 11:13 mark of the second quarter. Fournette started the drive with a 24-yard run to give LSU some room to work with, and quarterback Danny Etling capped it off with a 40-yard pass to DJ Chark to make it a 14-10 game in favor of the home team.
On the ensuing Ole Miss drive, the Rebels cut into the deficit with a 22-yard field goal by Wunderlich. Splitting the uprights for the second time in the contest, the junior kicker brought the Rebels to within a point. LSU countered with a 76-yard touchdown run by Fournette to bring the margin to eight, 21-13, with 6:11 left in the first half.
After LSU forced the Rebels to punt late in the second quarter, it looked as if the Tigers would take a lead into the locker room. However, Haynes had something to say about that. As Etling dropped back to pass on first down, the speed rusher blew past the right tackle and drilled the LSU quarterback from his blind side. The huge hit caused the ball to pop loose and freshman Jaylon Jones jumped on it to give Ole Miss the ball inside the LSU 10. On third-and-goal, Akeem Judd plunged into the end zone for a Rebel touchdown. After an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Tigers, Ole Miss elected to go for two to try and tie the ballgame. Kelly’s decision to keep the ball on a read option proved to be a smart one as he crossed the goal line to knot the contest at 21-21. After 30 minutes of football, the game stood where it started, all tied up.
The Tigers controlled the second half. On LSU’s first offensive play of the half, Fournette took off 78 yards down the field for a touchdown to break the tie. A 44-yard field goal gave the home team its biggest lead of the night, 31-21, with one quarter to play. LSU added a final touchdown in the fourth, a 6-yard run by Derrius Guice.
Following the pair of road contests, the Rebels return to Oxford for another divisional matchup next Saturday. Ole Miss will host the Auburn Tigers at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium with kickoff set for 6:15 p.m.
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