Born to Run

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt, his running game in desperate need of a spark, turned to his workhorse, Brandon Bolden, and freshman Jeff Scott Saturday against Fresno State.

And the pair responded, Bolden especially, who carried 19 times for 228 yards and two touchdowns. His longest was a 71-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second half to give the Rebels a commanding 34-10 lead.

Not once was Bolden tackled for a loss.

"I really wasn't paying attention to it," Bolden said. "I didn't know how many carries I had. I didn't really care about the yards. Guys were on the sideline, kind of looking up, saying we almost had 400 yards rushing. It was like, ‘OK, then. Let's keep pouring it on.'

Brandon Bolden

"That's what we did."

Bolden said those 19 carries were the most he's ever had, though he had topped the 200-yard mark before in high school. But this was a different Brandon Bolden, not the player previously recognized as only a bruising runner lacking breakaway speed.

"I knew we could run, but I didn't think about Brandon running for 228-something yards," Nutt said. "We've been trying to do it by committee, but he made a couple runs and added up the yards. He found holes due to good blocking and hitting them.

"I'm really proud of the way he played tonight."

In such a critical game for Ole Miss, one the Rebels had to win to keep its season alive, no player on the field was better. And Nutt continued to feed him. He was dominant, seemingly unstoppable. With each carry, he only got stronger, running like a man possessed with a defense that had no answer.

"I told him (after the game)," Scott said of Bolden, "I told him I love him. He really showed out today. He really showed out. He did great."

Nutt gave Scott the start Saturday. He had his reasons. Ole Miss was debuting two new guards along its offensive line. Nutt was unsure of how they would hold up with runs up the middle.

Bolden and Enrique Davis, injured in the game after a strong start, are similar, between-the-tackles runners. Nutt sought for more speed, a big-play threat dangerous in space. Scott responded in a big way in the Rebels' 55-38 win over Fresno State.

Jeff Scott

"I think I faired good," Scott said. "I'd like to thank the offensive line, because if it wasn't for them and it wasn't for God, I wouldn't have gotten in there."

After small gains of one and four yards, he busted a 55-yard touchdown run on his third carry of the game to give his team a 21-7 lead. And he wasn't done. Scott finished the game with 11 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown.

"(The running backs) made it a game, actually," Bolden said of the big-gainers from the backs. "Jeff did one, so I did one, then Rodney (Scott) tried to do one. We just tried to keep it going."

Before Saturday, Scott ranked sixth on the team in rushing yards with 19. He was also tied for seventh in carries with three.

Nutt had wanted to give the smallish back more carries, having consistently praised Scott during preseason practices. But Scott had battled through multiple nagging injuries, including a recent injury to his foot, in the season's early-goings.

Finally, he was close to full health, inserted into the starting lineup for the first time in his career.

"Jeff Scott gives us that lightning bolt that we need," Nutt said.

Ole Miss managed 425 rushing yards, its highest total since rushing for 433 yards against Tennessee in 1977. It was the eighth-largest total in Ole Miss history.

"We have a good group of backs," Bolden said. "We can spread the ball around. Anybody can do it. It just so happened that it fell on me (to lead the team in rushing)."

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