The Ragin’ Cajuns ventured into Oxford for a late-season, non-conference matchup Saturday morning. With the pressure on, the Rebels emerged victorious by a score of 50-22. Their second straight win, Phil Longo and his mercurial offense put on a clinic against the struggling visitors.
Ole Miss dominated the first half. Jordan Ta’amu carved up the Ragin’ Cajuns’ defensive unit both through the air and on the ground. His command of the offense continues to grow with every snap. Ta’amu accounted for 321 yards, including three touchdown throws and two touchdown runs. He was generous with his targets, finding nine different receivers on the day. AJ Brown led those receivers with 12 catches and 146 yards with touchdown grabs of 31 and 27 yards. Head coach Matt Luke was pleased with his offense’s fast start
“The offense scored on the first five possessions,” Luke said. “I was pleased for them coming out ready to play. Jordan played really well.”
The Rebel defense, at times, did struggle to contain LA-Lafayette quarterback Levi Lewis in the pocket. The Ragin’ Cajuns were able to generate big plays when Lewis avoided the pass rush to keep plays alive. But in most every other aspect, the defense performed well in the first half. Tayler Polk came up with four tackles, including a sack, to lead the Landsharks in the first half.
The Rebel offense spent much of the second half in game-management mode, burning clock with frequent run calls. The first drive of the half was a seven-play, 80-yard drive that Jordan Wilkins capped off with a three-yard score. In Ta’amu’s last drive of the game, the offense marched 75-yards en route to an Eric Swinney score. Luke chose to go for two points, and the offense converted. Outside of those drives, the offense mustered just 16 plays throughout the half. The only turnover of the game was an interception thrown by Ta’amu early in the fourth quarter.
Jordan Wilkins found himself with over 100 yards rushing again, adding 124 yards and a touchdown. Ta’amu tallied 418 yards through the air, 185 of which went in the direction of A.J. Brown. Brown tied Laquon Treadwell’s single game catch record with 14. Brown told the coaches he wanted one more for the record.
“I did (tell coach Luke) but he was not aware,” said Brown. “I told them I would run a bubble screen and fall down.”
Two of Louisiana’s three touchdowns arrived in the second half. Lewis continued to scramble, avoiding pressure and allowing his receivers to open up. Even though the Rebels finished the game with three sacks, there were opportunities for more.
With that said, the Ragin’ Cajun run game was effective. Nine different players combined for 228 rushing yards. This Ole Miss defense continues to struggle with opponents’ run games. Polk finished as the leading tackler for the Rebels with Speaks and C.J. Moore finishing with five apiece.
Van Jefferson left the game in the first half with a seemingly-serious injury to his left arm. Matt Luke had not received an update as to the extent of the injury after the game.
“I was not exactly sure of the injury,” Luke said. “I will find out when I leave here. I am going to check on Van as soon as I am done here.”
With the win, the Rebels improved to 5-5 on the season. Two games remain this season for the Rebels, both potentially vital for Matt Luke’s future as a head coach. Texas A&M comes to town next weekend for senior night, and a Thanksgiving Day Egg Bowl matchup waits in the not-too-distant future.