The Rebels (2-2, 1-1 in SEC) came out firing by putting up 31 points in the first half and the deficit proved to be too large for the Bulldogs to mount another second-half comeback. Ole Miss accumulated 510 total yards (330 through the air and 180 on the ground), while UGA managed 396 total yards with 230 rushing and 166 passing.
“They came out and dominated from the start of the game,” said Georgia head coach Kirby Smart. “It was disappointing to get the penalties that we got. We shot ourselves in the foot. A couple drives where we had things going, we struggled when we had 2nd-and-15 or 3rd-and-15. We couldn’t convert those. The pick-six then defensively we just gave up too many big plays. When they throw the ball down the field vertically, you have to make plays on the ball and make those things misses and they hit those.”
Bulldogs’ freshman quarterback Jacob Eason went 16-for-36 for 137 yards with an interception and a fumble. Freshman tailback Brian Herrien led Georgia with career-highs 78 yards on 11 touches and two touchdowns. Junior tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel added 57 and 66 yards, respectively, on the ground. Michel notched a team-high 34 receiving yards on two catches.
Senior quarterback Chad Kelly led Ole Miss with 282 yards passing on two touchdowns, and he had a team-high 53 yards rushing with one touchdown. Senior tight end Evan Engram grabbed team-high six receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown.
“We struggled with that third-and-long,” said Smart. “The penalties backed us up because we ran the ball decent early in the game. We had 93 yards rushing in the first half and that was with a sack. Any time you are playing behind the sticks with a freshman quarterback on the road, it is challenging. But we got to execute and do better on offense.”
The Rebels took their opening possession 69 yards on seven plays but the Georgia defense halted the Rebels on the UGA seven-yard line to force a Gary Wunderlich 24-yard field goal that gave Ole Miss the early 3-0 advantage.
On the following Bulldog possession, defensive back Derrick Jones of the Rebels intercepted Eason and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown.
Later in the first quarter, Ole Miss tailback D’Vaughn Pennamon punched it into the end zone from one yard out to finish a 10-play, 84-yard drive for a 17-0 lead. Then Ole Miss’ Kelly connected with receiver Demarkus Lodge and Engram for second quarter touchdowns.
At the half, the Rebels had 323 total yards (53 rushing and 270 passing), while the Bulldogs managed a total of 186 yards (93 rushing and passing, each). Eason went 7-for-21 for 64 yards and an interception. Kelly of the Rebels amassed 233 yards and two touchdowns.
The Rebels added two touchdowns in the third quarter on a 5-yard Jason Pellerin reception from backup Ole Miss quarterback Eugene Brazley and a 41-yard run by Kelly.
The Bulldogs got on the board in the subsequent possession as they orchestrated a 75-yard, 7-play drive capped with a touchdown. Herrien had 43 yards on the drive with 10-yard scurry to make it a 45-7 game.
At the 7:38 mark in the fourth quarter, Georgia and Herrien reached the end zone again as the tailback finished the Bulldogs’ longest drive of the game (79 yards in 12 plays) with a one-yard touchdown run. Eason amassed 45 yards on 5-for-6 passing, while he added 8 yards on the ground.
Junior safety Dominick Sanders notched team-high seven tackles and added a sack. Georgia cornerback Aaron Davis picked off Pelerin’s pass in the third quarter and returned it for eight yards.
“These men have had setbacks before, we all have setbacks,” said Smart. “But it’s how we respond to it. It is the first setback this year. But we haven’t played a complete game yet and that was kinda how this one was. We need to continue to improve and sell these kids on working to get better and that is what we are going to do.”
Georgia returns home next Saturday to face #14 Tennessee. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 and will be televised on CBS.