Offensive Explosion Leads Football to 50-22 Win
By Brian Scott Rippee, OleMissSports.com
OXFORD, Miss. - Ole Miss handled its necessary business against a Louisiana team that's running out of gas down the stretch. The Rebels amassed 50 points on 641 yards of offense in a 50-22 rout to earn their fifth victory of the season and get back to .500 for the first time since they took the field against Auburn on October 7.
"It was a good win to get to 2-0 in November," head coach Matt Luke said. "They remember what you do in November and now we turn our attention to Texas A&M on senior night."
Jordan Ta'amu looked sharp once again and steered the Ole Miss offense on the same upward trajectory it his been on the last three weeks since he assumed the duties of starting quarterback.
The Rebels scored on their first five drives of the game, and the junior signal caller was responsible for all five touchdowns in one form or another. He went 28-36 for 418 yards and three touchdowns on the day.
Ta'amu zipped a 37-yard deep ball to DaMarkus Lodge just 72 seconds into the game to open the scoring. Ta'amu followed that up on the next drive by throwing A.J. Brown the ball on the far sideline and let him do the rest. Brown made a shifty move down the sideline and dove for the pylon for a 31-yard touchdown that capped off a 96 yard drive.
"I after I threw that bubble route, he just did what A.J. does," Ta'amu said. "He made a move on him and that was it."
Ta'amu ran one in from eight yards out on the fifth play of an 80-yard drive and then found Brown again for 27 yards a few minutes later to put Ole Miss 28-0. His final touchdown came on a short one-yard touchdown dive at the end of a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive that helped the Rebels attain a 35-10 lead at the half. The team coasted the rest of the way.
"I am happy with it," offensive coordinator Phil Longo said. "We have an emphasis every week and that was it this week. We felt like we had a good plan and we wanted to roll into this game with the momentum from last week. I thought we did that. We executed and played good football."
The offense hasn't missed a beat since Ta'amu took over and today - albeit a dip in competition - was further proof of that. Ta'amu completed his first nine passes and his first incompletion came deep into the second quarter. He dispersed the ball nine different receivers.
"We always start fast," Ta'amu said. "That is our emphasis every week. I just wanted to spread the ball around and use every major tool we have in the offense."
The Rebels' biggest tool on this day was undoubtably Brown who had 14 catches for 185 yards and the two touchdowns. He tied the school records for receptions in a game, pulling even with Laquon Treadwell.. Ole Miss compiled 641 yards of total offense. Jordan Wilkins had a 124 yard game on 14 carries with a score.
There were multiple chances for Ole Miss to quit this season when things look dire. The team elected to do the opposite and is now reaping the benefits. The Rebels are now 5-5 and have a puncher' chance at finishing .500 or better. The offense has continued to click with Ta'amu at the controls and the defense is gaining confidence by the week. Ta'amu is also gaining confidence the more he gets acclimated to Longo's system. His composure in the pocket is a testament to that.
"Definitely more confident," Ta'amu said. "I am reading the defense a lot quicker and knowing where I need to put the ball. It is just ball placement and going through my reads in the run game."
As ugly as things looked at times early in the season, Ole Miss has improved each week and is playing its best football in the season's final month. It will have a chance to notch its 3rd SEC victory of the season when Texas A&M comes to Oxford next Saturday.
"I am really pleased with our first half," Luke said. "Things got a little sloppy in the second half. Overall, it was a really good win."
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