On a cloudy Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, the Ole Miss football team’s offense and defense shined brightly, shutting down the Louisiana-Lafayette offense and shredding the Ragin’ Cajun defense en route to a 56-15 victory in the Rebels’ home opener.
“I’m really happy we went out and took control of the game and kept control of it,” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said. “There are some things we did not do particularly well today that we have to get cleaned up. Even though you may be the better football team on a given day, you still have to execute and do the things that will make you one of the top-tier teams in the country.”
The Rebel offense accumulated 554 total yards of offense, including 340 yards through the air and 214 yards on the ground. The defense held Louisiana-Lafayette to 322 total yards, including just 129 through the air. The Rebels’ “Landshark Defense” has now allowed just 189 yards passing over the past two games combined, and has allowed just two touchdowns all season.
Senior quarterback Bo Wallace completed 23 of his 28 pass attempts for 316 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. With his four touchdown passes, the Pulaski, Tennessee, native passed Jevan Snead for second all-time in Ole Miss history with 49 career touchdowns. Saturday was also the 10th 300-yard passing game of Wallace’s career, which ties him with former Rebel great Eli Manning for the most in program history.
“It was a really solid day from Bo,” Freeze said. “He played really well. The receivers played well. It was good to see us get some explosive runs. We beat a pretty good football team. Bo threw for 300-plus yards in basically two quarters.”
Ole Miss had a balanced rushing attack, as juniors Jaylen Walton and I’Tavius Mathers totaled 146 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries. Walton’s day was highlighted by a career-high 71-yard touchdown run, while Mathers opened the scoring for Ole Miss with a 56-yard scamper to the endzone.
Through the air, senior Vince Sanders had a career day with eight receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns (all career highs). Even more impressive, all of the Macon, Mississippi’s production came in the first half of the game.
Senior cornerback Senquez Golson picked off two passes Saturday, and returned one of the two interceptions 59 yards for a touchdown.
“He had a solid day,” said Freeze of Golson. “This is the first year he decided he was going to really buy-in. It’s not that he was bad the last couple years. There’s no question the way he comes to work every day and allows me to coach him that he’s just a different guy. When someone does that and has success on the field, it’s very rewarding to see good things happen because a kid really decides to buy in.”
It was the first time since 2009 that Ole Miss has had a pick-six in back-to-back games.
Following two touchdowns in the first quarter which each elapsed 40-or-more yards, Ole Miss stretched its lead to 28-0 in the second quarter before Louisiana-Lafayette hit a pair of field goals before the half.
The Rebels then came out strong in the second half, scoring three touchdowns in the opening 7:12 of the third quarter to stake claim to a 49-6 lead.
Sophomore Jeremy Liggins ran in a two-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter for the first score of his career, and the final score read 56-15 following a Ragin’ Cajun safety with 2:25 to play.