Ole Miss outduels South Carolina in 59-42 shootout victory

Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

In a game that featured 101 total points and 1,256 yards of offense, defensive stops were few and far between, but the Ole Miss defense rose to the occasion late to help the Rebels secure a 59-42 victory over South Carolina.

After four second-half lead changes between the two teams, it appeared that whoever had the ball last was going to walk out of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium with a win tonight — until the fourth quarter. A busted coverage in the South Carolina secondary led to a 91-yard touchdown pass from Matt Corral to Elijah Moore — the longest play in Ole Miss history — and a 45-42 Rebel lead early in the final quarter. The Gamecocks had scored on their past three possessions, but the Rebel defense, ranked 120th in the country, was able to get off the field and put the ball back in the hands of an offense that couldn’t be stopped.

Eight plays later, Rebel RB Jerrion Ealy took it in from five yards out for his third score of the night to give Ole Miss a 52-42 lead. Another defensive stand by Ole Miss and another strike from Corral to Moore — on 4th and 11 — put this one away for Lane Kiffin’s Rebels.

The Rebels’ sophomore signal-caller had as many touchdowns as he did incompletions with a final stat line of 28-32 for 513 yards — an Ole Miss single-game record — and 4 touchdowns. He also added a rushing touchdown late in the first quarter. Moore continues to be Corral’s favorite target, racking up 225 yards with 2 touchdowns. Through just seven games, Moore — the SEC’s leading receiver — has 1,051 yards on 74 catches. On the ground, the Rebels picked up 195 yards while splitting carries between three backs and Moore got six carries as well.

South Carolina and Ole Miss traded double-digit play scoring drives to open the game as a sign of what was to come in tonight’s shootout that somehow outpaced the 2018 meeting between the two teams — a 48-44 Gamecock victory with a combined 1,126 yards of offense.

Defense seems to be optional when these two teams meet, and the rush defense for the Rebels was particularly porous tonight as the Gamecocks’ ground game accounted for 318 yards, led by Kevin Harris’ 243 yards and 5 touchdowns on 25 carries. After reopening their quarterback competition this week, Will Muschamp stuck with Collin Hill for tonight’s matchup. The Colorado State transfer wasn’t asked to do much and ended up with 230 yards through the air with 1 touchdown and an interception, an A.J. Finley pick on the second drive of the game.

While this matchup featured countless highlights, perhaps the most buzz-worthy moment of the night occurred on the Rebel sideline. On Moore’s go-ahead touchdown in the 4th, Kiffin launched his play sheet into the air and took off running as the receiver broke away from the Gamecock defense.

After the game, the first-year head coach acknowledged that there’s work to do, but he’s enjoying the ride so far.

“We have to stop some people at some point, but it’s fun right now,” Kiffin told the SEC Network.

Next week, the Rebels (3-4) are scheduled to take on Texas A&M, but COVID-19 may have other plans. The Aggies were forced to postpone their matchup with Tennessee this weekend and reports have stated that next Saturday’s game is in jeopardy due to positive cases and contact tracing.

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