Brown's Career Day Leads Rebels Over South Alabama

Sept. 2, 2017 

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By Brian Scott Rippee, 

OXFORD, Miss.Ole Miss blitzed South Alabama in the second half en route to a 47-27 win over the Jaguars to deliver Matt Luke his first career victory as a head coach.

"It was a lot of fun getting that first win under your belt," Luke said. "There were a lot of emotions early. Once the game kicked off we settled in to it. I think there is a lot of things we have to get cleaned up from game one to game two, but it is always better to make those corrections after a win."

The Rebels started fast with 10 quick points in the first 13 minutes of the game, but endured a sluggish end to the first half that saw South Alabama climb back into the game at 13-10.

The story of the second half - at least the early portion of it - was A.J. Brown and Shea Patterson. The two hooked up for a pair of long touchdown passes in the first two drives of the half from 71 and 77 yards, respectively. Brown had 8 receptions for 233 yards and the two touchdowns. Patterson finished the game 28 of 35 for 429 yards and four scores. He threw all over the Jaguars in a strong opening performance for the sophomore quarterback who is the centerpiece of Phil Longo's offense. 

"I think there is always room to get better," Patterson said. "I am going to go in tomorrow and watch the film. That is the biggest transition from game one to game two. I am just looking to get better."

Brown broke the school record for receiving yards in a game. He and Patterson connected on a lot of broken plays when Patterson was flushed out of the pocket. It is a byproduct of their timing together and being on the same page.

"We work on that," Brown said. "We work on the scramble drill because he is going to run around. He likes to run so it was just a drill we work on."

Brown was one of seven Rebels to record catches on the day as the most explosive element of the Ole Miss offense dominated South Alabama's secondary.

DaMarkus Lodge had five receptions for 51 yards and a pair of touchdowns. D.K. Metcalf caught eight balls for 84 yards on the night.

The first of Patterson's four touchdowns came on a connection to Lodge that put the Rebels up 7-0 less than five minutes into the game. Lodge caught two touchdown passes on the night as did Patterson.

Ole Miss kept pouring it on after the two early second half strikes between Patterson and Brown. Jaylon Jones took a kickoff 97 yards for a score to give Ole Miss a 33-13 lead midway through the third quarter. Lodge followed that with the second of his touchdown catches that put the game out of reach at 40-13. 

Patterson aired the football out all night, completing 80 percent of his passes. He spread the ball around to the plethora of weapons he has to choose from. The offense tallied 531 total yards to go along with the 47 points. 

"Coach Longo, I have never been more prepared for a game than I was for this one with him," Patterson said. "This offense, I just feel very comfortable in it."

After scuffling slightly in the middle portion of the first half, the Ole Miss defense buckled down in the second half. Luke noted he liked the way his team performed in the red zone. 

"I do like the speed we played with," defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff said. "We definitely need to improve on our tackling. There was just too much leaking yardage. The first guy would get there and there were too many yards after contact. We will pay attention to that. I do like the way we populated the football and how we played as one."

All of the coaches noted there was room for improvement. But in an emotional day for Luke and the Rebels, he can savor his first career win as a head coach.

"It was very special," Luke said. "Rebel Nation, I appreciate them. They made this a very easy transition. It was just really special. I told the players in the locker room after the game, this isn't about me. This is about us as a family and doing things together."



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