OXFORD, Miss – The Rebels overcame a two-score deficit by rolling up more than 400 yards on offense to get past the Eagles, 37-27.
Senior Chad Kelly continued his stellar play by leading the Rebels on four consecutive touchdown drives before he was forced to leave the game with a leg injury. He was replaced by redshirt-freshman Jason Pellerin, who did enough for Ole Miss to hold on for the win.
The Rebels leaned on Akeem Judd throughout the game, as he rumbled for a career-high 139 yards on 26 carries. It was the second time this season Judd eclipsed the 100-yard mark.
Ole Miss opened up the scoring on its second drive of the game when Groza Award semifinalist Gary Wunderlich nailed a 35-yard field goal.
However, the remainder of the first quarter belonged to the Eagles as the Rebels struggled to slow down Georgia Southern’s offensive attack. Quarterback Kevin Ellison found Myles Campbell for a 29-touchdown to give the Eagles the early 7-3 lead.
After Ole Miss’ following drive stalled, Georgia Southern capped off its next drive with a 9-yard touchdown run by Ellison to increase its lead to 14-3.
The Rebels responded with a 71-yard touchdown drive, finished off by a 3-yard scamper by Kelly to pull the game back to within four points. The Rebels reached the red zone by way of an A.J. Brown grab that went for 29 yards. That touchdown marked the first of four consecutive touchdown drives in the second quarter for Ole Miss.
Georgia Southern restored its 10-point lead when Matt Breida broke loose for a 68-yard touchdown run. That was the last touchdown the Eagles would score.
Kelly and the Ole Miss offense quickly pulled the game back to four again. The Rebel signal caller found Damore’ea Stringfellow down the sideline for 35 yards to set Ole Miss up at Georgia Southern’s 2-yard line. Three plays later, Kelly once again found the end zone using his feet.
The next offensive drive resulted in the Rebels gaining a lead they would never relinquish as the Ole Miss defense began to limit the Eagles’ potent ground game. Judd finished off a 60-yard with a 9-yard touchdown rush to give Ole Miss a 24-21 lead.
After the Rebels forced a three-and-out on defense, Kelly found Evan Engram for a 38-yard touchdown strike to increase the Ole Miss lead to 31-21.
Ole Miss was marching down the field on the first drive of the second half before Kelly was forced to leave the game with a leg injury after a second-down pass. The offense was unable to establish the same type of rhythm after losing the starting quarterback.
Wunderlich and fellow Groza semifinalist Younghoe Koo traded a pair of field goals each to round out the scoring for the day.