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Ole Miss football beats Auburn in consecutive years for first time since 1951-1952

Ole Miss FB
Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

The No. 13 Ole Miss football team earned a historic achievement in the Lane Kiffin era on Saturday night — ousting Auburn in back-to-back seasons for the first time in 71 years.

After weathering a storm of penalties, offensive miscues, and a hostile road environment, the Rebels survived the Tigers 28-21.

Ole Miss began the game capitalizing on an Auburn turnover on downs with a short field that was continuously elongated. The Rebels were penalized three times during their first offensive drive, but a 4th down conversion deep into Auburn territory set up a touchdown pass to Zakhari Franklin, putting Ole Miss up 7-0.

Auburn, after switching quarterbacks from Robby Ashford to Payton Thorne, found success in the running game. Tigers running back Jarquez Hunter hit a gap and went untouched for a 53-yard score, tying the game.

Kiffin, known for taking risks on 4th down, left his offense on the field in a short-yard situation late in the first quarter. Jaxson Dart showcased his wheels with a 29-yard rushing touchdown to give the Rebels a 14-7 lead.

The Ole Miss defense proceeded to force a stop, placing momentum in the hands of Dart, who sailed a pass to Franklin that was picked off by an Auburn defender and returned near the red zone. Hunter worked his way into the endzone to tie things up yet again.

Attempting to regain the lead, Ole Miss went to the running back stable of Quinshon Judkins and Ulysses Bentley IV, who collectively marched the Rebels to the goal line. An intentional grounding penalty and a botched hold on a field goal kept the score the same as the clock winded down toward the half.

Neither team was able to put together a meaningful offensive drive, leaving the score idle at 14-14 at the midway break in the game.

“We played an ugly half and weathered their storm,” Kiffin said at the half. “We have to come out and play a clean second half.”

Ole Miss’ offense did not open up the second half playing clean football per Kiffin’s request. The Rebels found themselves in a 4th and 5 situation just past midfield and failed to convert. The defense held up with back-to-back tackles for loss courtesy of Suntarine Perkins and Jared Ivey.

Stagnation plagued both offenses throughout the third quarter. However, Dart established a rhythm with Tre Harris to move the ball into Auburn territory. The Ole Miss signal-caller used his legs once more to reclaim a Rebels’ lead at 21-14 to start the fourth quarter.

Pete Golding’s defense continued to stop former Ole Miss and now Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze’s offensive attack, giving the Rebels an opportunity to take a double-digit lead.

That’s exactly what the offense did. A deep pass from Dart to Harris paired with a late hit penalty on Auburn put the Rebels in the red zone. A quick handoff to Judkins gave the All-American his first touchdown of the game and gave Ole Miss a 28-14 lead.

A late Auburn touchdown with just under a minute remaining in the fourth quarter made things interesting. An onside kick attempt recovered by the Rebels ultimately kept the Tigers out of reach, allowing Dart to kneel out the clock.

Central Florida transfer Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste led the defense with seven tackles, two for loss. In total, Ole Miss had nine tackles for loss, two recorded sacks, and an interception in Saturday’s dominant showing.

Offensively, Dart went 10 for 17 with 202 yards, a passing touchdown, two rushing touchdowns, and an interception. His primary target was none other than Harris, who had 102 yards on four receptions. Judkins led the team on the ground with 121 yards and a score.

Next up for Ole Miss (6-1, 3-1 SEC) is a Saturday night home match against Vanderbilt. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT.

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