Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. For the No. 18 Ole Miss football team, it wasn’t always pretty Thursday night at the Georgia Dome, but at the end of the night the Rebels accomplished their goal and sit at 1-0 after a 35-13 victory over Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.
For those who love strong defense, the Rebels opened the season with flying colors. For the folks who love seeing touchdowns, the first three quarters were forgettable, while the fourth quarter was a thing of beauty. Either way, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze knows his team has room to improve, and it will do so with a victory in hand.
“Real proud of our defense and special teams," Freeze said. "They really came to play and played with great passion and energy. Offensively, we were totally out of sync the entire first half ... they're a good defense, but we also hurt ourselves quite a bit. We've got a lot to get cleaned up, but at the end of the day, we beat a good football team tonight, and we're excited to be going back 1-0.”
The Ole Miss defense caused three turnovers in the opening half, all interceptions, and despite the Broncos recording seven plays inside the Ole Miss 5-yard line, the Rebels held Boise State to just three points and went into the half with a 7-3 lead.
After the Broncos cut the Rebels’ lead to one on a field goal with 1:02 remaining in the third quarter, Ole Miss broke the game open in the fourth quarter. After scoring just seven points in its first 59 plays, the Ole Miss offense then scored 28 points over a nine-play stretch.
Leading 7-6, Ole Miss responded with a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a 14-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Bo Wallace to sophomore wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell finished with a team-high seven receptions for 105 yards. It was his first career 100-yard receiving game. Wallace went 25-of-36 for 387 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.
Following an interception by sophomore Huskie Tony Conner, Ole Miss’ fourth of the game, the Rebels went 40 yards on two plays, highlighted by a 31-yard touchdown reception from sophomore wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo.
Then, after a Boise State three-and-out, Wallace hit junior wide receiver Cody Core down the middle for a career-long 76-yard touchdown. It was the second touchdown of the game for the Auburn, Alabama, native, who finished with career highs in receptions (4) and receiving yards (111) in addition to touchdowns.
Sophomore running back Mark Dodson closed out the scoring for Ole Miss with a 19-yard touchdown run to give Ole Miss a 35-13 lead after Boise State had scored its first touchdown of the day prior to the Rebels’ five-play scoring drive.
The Rebels’ 28 fourth-quarter points were the most points in a quarter by an Ole Miss team since scoring 28 in the fourth quarter against Memphis in the 2009 season opener.
With interceptions from Senquez Golson, C.J. Johnson, Cody Prewitt and Conner, the Ole Miss defense recorded its most interceptions in a game since picking off four passes against Southern Illinois in 2011. On the ground, Ole Miss racked up eight tackles for loss and three sacks.
In special teams play, redshirt-freshman punter Will Gleeson hit four punts for a 47.2-yard average. Three of Gleeson’s punts landed inside the 20-yard line, including a long punt of 70 yards which settled on the Broncos’ 7.
So while the first half was a struggle at times, and the number of penalties was eyebrow-raising, Ole Miss was still able to come away with a convincing victory on a big stage on college football’s opening night. Now that is a thing of beauty.