ATHENS, Ga. — Ole Miss jumped out to a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter and had hopes of an upset against No. 6 Georgia, but the Bulldogs responded with 37 unanswered points as the Rebels fell 37-10 this past Saturday “Between the Hedges.”
“It was obviously a pretty good beating that Georgia put on us today,” head coach Hugh Freeze said. “Offensively, we just couldn’t make any plays to give our defense much hope.
“It was the first time in the course of this season where I felt like we were zapped of our passion and energy there in the second half.”
Georgia junior quarterback Aaron Murray was 21-of-28 for 384 yards and touchdown passes of 66, 40, 42 and 23 yards, while the freshman running back duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall combined for 145 yards on 29 carries.
Ole Miss (5-4, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) managed just 46 yards on 29 carries on the ground, and sophomore wide receiver Donte Moncrief was held without a catch, as the Bulldogs (8-1, 6-1 SEC) outgained the Rebels 533-234.
“I’d have to watch the film, but we certainly weren’t in sync,” Freeze said. “We have to look at our staff, our game plan, our quarterback and our blocking, but it certainly feels like we took a step back offensively.”
On the Rebels’ opening drive of the game, sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace threw a 51-yard pass to senior tight end Ferbia Allen to set up a 34-yard field goal by senior kicker Bryson Rose.
Ole Miss added to its lead with a six-play, 70-yard drive in just 1:45, capped by a 13-yard touchdown pass from Wallace to senior tight end Jamal Mosley. For the game, Wallace was 16-of-25 passing for 187 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Ole Miss had all the momentum, and then Georgia dialed up a play-action pass that faked out the entire Ole Miss defense, as Murray threw a 66-yard looping pass to senior wide receiver Marlon Brown.
“The first (touchdown) was just bad eyes,” Freeze said. “They were looking in the backfield instead of looking at your man.
“We have some freshmen back there who just got out of position. We missed some guys today. We’re very young back there, and they exposed that today.”
Just before the half, after four combined turnovers in the span of five plays, Ole Miss pushed Georgia back to the Ole Miss 40 and forced a 3rd-and-25 after sacks by freshman defensive tackle Issac Gross and senior defensive tackle Uriah Grant. The Rebels finished with five sacks — all in the first half.
Ole Miss played three deep in coverage, and Murray found senior wide receiver Tavarres King, who split junior cornerback Charles Sawyer and freshman safety Trae Elston for a 40-yard touchdown down the right sideline to take a 14-10 lead into halftime.
“I think you got to go through some experiences sometimes,” defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said. “I hate to say that, but you got to understand why.
“A real simple thing like that, to stay back in thirds and that situation — I guarantee you (Elston) won’t forget it again. It hurts us, and I think it got the momentum going for them.”
Georgia carried that momentum into the locker room, and it was more of the same for the Bulldogs, starting the second half with two touchdowns on their first two drives to open up a 28-10 lead on the Rebels.
Junior Dehendret Collins, who moved from huskie to cornerback with injuries to sophomore Senquez Golson and senior Wesley Pendleton, was beat by Georgia sophomore wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell for a 42-yard touchdown pass.
Then, after an Ole Miss three-and-out, Georgia put the game away on a 6-play, 77-yard scoring drive, capped by 5-yard touchdown run up the middle by junior fullback Alexander Ogletree.
At one point in the first half, Ole Miss had outgained Georgia 100-16, but in the second half, the Rebels were limited to two first downs and just 55 yards of total offense.
“In the first half, we had a bunch of chances to move the football and didn’t take advantage of it,” co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner said. “When you play a team like that, that is obviously very, very talented, you better take advantage of the chances when you get it. And we didn’t, so that’s what happens.”
Late in the third quarter, Ole Miss was backed up to its own 3-yard line, and sophomore running back Jeff Scott was tackled in the end zone for a safety to give Georgia a 30-10 lead.
The Bulldogs added another score early in the fourth quarter on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Murray to junior wide receiver Rantavious Wooten to bring the final score to 37-10 in favor of Georgia.
Ole Miss has now lost 10 straight to Georgia in the series and remains one win shy of bowl eligibility with games remaining against Vanderbilt (home), LSU (away) and Mississippi State (home).
The Commodores have won four of their last five, including a 40-0 drubbing against Kentucky in Lexington this past Saturday, but Freeze downplayed an emotional edge for Vanderbilt entering Saturday’s game.
“It has to do with how we respond,” Freeze said. “We get to play at home in front of our fans, and we expect our fans to show up. We got a lot to play for next Saturday. This is a great test for the leadership of our football team to see how we respond to it.”
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