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Ole Miss and MSU manage wins, Southern...

Ole Miss and MSU manage wins, Southern Miss falls to Old Dominion

By: James Bryan Harrell - October 8, 2023

(Photos from OleMissFB, HailStateFB, and SouthernMissFB on X/Twitter)

A look at Saturday’s games and the week ahead for the Rebels, Bulldogs, and Golden Eagles.

Ole Miss’s Defense Hold Arkansas in Check

In a thrilling win over LSU last week, Ole Miss offense scored at-will while its defense struggled to get a stop. Last night in Oxford, the roles were reversed in the Rebels 27-20 victory over conference foe Arkansas.

The Rebels offense could not get in a consistent rhythm. Jaxson Dart, who has been lights out good all year, faced pressure. He could not find receivers and had his worst game statistically of the season, throwing for just 153 yards.

After what many Rebel fans hoped would be a breakout game for Quinshon Judkins against LSU, the running back failed to generate a repeat performance against Arkansas. Judkins rushed for just 65 yards, more than half of which came on a single play. The rest of the night he was bottled up.

Ulysses Bentley IV cruises for a touchdown. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)

Judkins understudy, Ulysses Bentley IV, provided the most consistent offensive spark. Bentley ran for 94 yards, including the touchdown that put the Rebels up 24-20 with 5:22 left in the fourth quarter, and a 32-yard run that positioned the Rebels to kick a field goal and go up 27-20 with just 3 minutes remaining on the clock.

But it was the Rebels defense that won the game. While the unit still had difficulty getting Arkansas off the field in third down situations, it strung together stops when necessary, including two late in the fourth to seal the game.

Overall, the Ole Miss defense held the Razorbacks to just 286 total yards. Last year, the Razorbacks put up over 300 yards rushing against the Rebels. Last night, the Rebels held Arkansas’s ground attack to a paltry 36 yards.

Pete Golding’s defense was able to create pressure in the backfield throughout the night, with 5 recorded sacks and 10 tackles for loss.

More importantly, the Rebels won the turnover battle, forcing two interceptions. The first pick by Ashanti Cistrunk set up the Rebels first touchdown of the game. The second interception by John Saunders, Jr. came late in the fourth quarter to put the game on ice.

The Rebels have an open date next weekend before resuming SEC play against the Auburn Tigers, led by former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze.

The Bulldogs Bounce Back

Mississippi State bounced back from a three-game losing streak to notch a W against the Western Michigan Broncos, 41-28.

The Bulldogs and Broncos, who play in the Mid-Atlantic Conference, both came into the game 2-3 and in need of a win to claw back to .500 on the season.

Both teams battled injury. Bulldogs running back Jo’Quavious Marks went down in the first half. Quarterback Will Rogers would follow in the fourth quarter after being hit on a pass attempt. Rogers showed signs of injury to his left arm and shoulder leaving the field.

Prior to his departure, the senior signal caller was 16 of 22 for 189 yards and 3 touchdowns. Mike Wright got his most snaps of the year for the Bulldogs. The emerging jack-of-all-trades went 7 of 10 for 57 yards and added 24 yards on the ground.

Mike Wright finds a hole. (USA TODAY Sports – Matt Bush)

In total, the Bulldogs put up 440 yards to get the win. At time their defense struggled against the Broncos, who also amassed over 400 yards of total offense.

Western Michigan was playing without their starting quarterback, starting running back, and two starting offensive linemen. Third-string quarterback Hayden Wolff rose to the occasion throwing for 262 yards and three touchdowns on 27 of 35 passing.

Wolff’s one mistaken, an interception by Shawn Preston, Jr., helped secure the win for the Bulldogs in the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs have a bye-week this coming weekend. No doubt first year head coach Zach Arnett is thankful for the chance to get his team healthy before the second half of the season begins.

The Golden Eagles’ Downfall Continues

The Old Dominion Monarchs outscored the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles 10-3 in the second half of Saturday’s contest to take the lead and the win, 17-13. The loss moves Southern Miss to just 1-5 on the season and 0-3 in conference play.

The Golden Eagles started the game strong with an Andrew Stein field goal and an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown by Tiaquelin Mims. Southern Miss led 10-7 at halftime and tacked on another Andrew Stein field goal in the third quarter.

Southern Miss’s offense struggled to find the end zone. Quarterback Billy Wiles was 15 of 26 for 166 yards and no touchdowns. Star running back Frank Gore, Jr. was held to just 65 yards and no touchdowns.

The Monarchs matched the Golden Eagles third quarter field goal and then followed it with the go-ahead touchdown by running back Keyshawn Wicks early the fourth.

The Golden Eagles had an opportunity to retake the lead late in the period. After driving the ball 74 yards, the Eagles found themselves on the 1-yard line facing a fourth-and-goal. Gore took a direct snap, but was stopped short of the end zone by a Monarch defender.

Old Dominion killed the remainder of the clock to secure the victory.

Southern Miss will play conference opponent University of South Alabama on Tuesday, October 17th.

About the Author(s)
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James Bryan Harrell

James Bryan Harrell writes about Mississippi sports and culture for Magnolia Tribune. JB is a native of West Point and is a senior at Vanderbilt University, where he is majoring in communications.