Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics
Despite having turned the ball over five times, Matt Corral had the Rebel offense moving in LSU territory with a chance to retake the lead in the closing minute in Baton Rouge, but it was his sixth turnover of the day that sealed a 53-48 victory for the Tigers.
Prior to the sophomore quarterback coughing the ball up, LSU WR Kayshon Boutte capped a historic day as he crossed the goal line for a 45-yard touchdown reception—setting an LSU record with 308 yards on 14 catches with three touchdowns.
On the back of the running game, the Rebels were able to shake off some first-half rust after a long layoff in order to take a 48-40 lead on a Corral touchdown run with just under nine minutes to play but couldn’t hold on.
A 10-play touchdown drive for the Tigers followed with Boutte on the receiving end of a Max Johnson touchdown pass—one of three on the day for the freshman and son of Super Bowl winner Brad Johnson.
Clinging to a 48-46 lead after an unsuccessful 2-point try and with a chance to bleed the clock on their next possession, the Rebels failed to pick up a first down and a 3-and-out led to a punt and what ended up becoming the game-winning touchdown for the home team.
At the half, Lane Kiffin’s squad trailed 34-21 with the first-year head coach acknowledging that the team looked like they hadn’t played in three weeks. They were also playing without their top target in Elijah Moore. Earlier this week, the nation’s reception leader decided to opt-out of the remainder of the season to focus on the upcoming NFL Draft as did TE Kenny Yeboah.
Corral threw four of his five interceptions in the first 30 minutes, including one that was returned for a touchdown. However, it wasn’t all bad for the red and blue in the first half. After an LSU score that made it 17-7, Jerrion Ealy fielded the ensuing kickoff deep in the end zone and took it out for a 100-yard return touchdown.
The second half began with another Corral interception leading to a Cade York field goal, but the Rebels would find their footing on both sides of the ball after that. Touchdowns from freshman RB Henry Parrish Jr., Dontario Drummond and Braylon Sanders put Ole Miss ahead 41-40 before a Keidron Smith interception in the end zone slammed the door on the Tigers early in the 4th quarter.
Corral’s aforementioned touchdown run gave the Rebels an eight-point lead, but the final sequence left Ole Miss on the wrong end of the final score.
With a renewed commitment to the ground game in the second half during a driving rainstorm, the Rebels rushed for over 300 yards with the quarterback accounting for 158 of those yards. Parrish became the featured back after Ealy went down with an injury in the third quarter and finished with 82 yards and two touchdowns. In Moore’s absence, Braylon Sanders led the receivers with just four catches with two of them going for scores.
The Rebels now await their bowl destination following a 4-5 regular season.