Scott Slams Salukis

OXFORD, Miss. -- Jeff Scott had an amazing start. In the game's first six minutes, the Rebel sophomore scored three touchdowns – two by rush and one by punt return.

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Scott's first touchdown was a 37-yard run; his second a 4-yard run after Wayne Dorsey had tipped and intercepted an SIU pass, returning it 27 yards to the Saluki 4.

His third was an electrifying punt return of 67 yards that put the Rebels up three touchdowns – with 9:09 to go still in the first period.

In the third quarter he added a 7-yard touchdown run.

"I knew my two senior running backs were down this week, so throughout the whole week they gave me a bunch of reps," Scott said. "The coaches did a great job preparing me to go out there tonight to carry the load. I just went out there and played as hard as I could."

Scott said the preparations were thorough as he took over most of the reps with the No. 1 unit.

"Practice was very difficult. I was touching the ball a lot and I was very fatigued. I had Devin Thomas and Korvic Neat out there to help me. But it was really difficult. But it showed out there on the field that hard work pays off."

Scott became the first Rebel to score two rushing touchdowns and have a punt return for a touchdown since as a senior in 2000 Deuce McAllister accomplished the feat against Auburn.

Jeff Scott
Chuck Rounsaville

The last Ole Miss player to score three touchdowns in a quarter (with one of them not a punt return) was running back Randy Baldwin in 1990 against Arkansas State. Baldwin had two rushing touchdowns and one pass receiving score.

The last time a Rebel scored three rushing touchdowns in a game was Dexter McCluster who scored four against Tennessee in 2009.

Scott totaled 210 all-purpose yards against SIU, the second time in his Rebel career he had garnered more than 200 all-purpose yards in a contest. He also did it against LSU last season.

Scott said the punt return was a thrill, and he was hoping he didn't step out of bounds en route.

"I just caught the ball and I saw everybody cave in, so I just ran on my instincts. I ran right and they set up a wall. I just bent the corner with my speed. I had one guy to beat and that was the kicker. He put his hand out and I was trying my best to stay in bounds. And I got in the end zone."

"I thought Jeff Scott was the difference in the game, especially early," said offensive coordinator David Lee. "Both on special teams and running the ball."

Scott said his successful day surprised even him.

"I had no clue I'd run back a punt return and score three touchdowns in the first quarter," he said. "But I felt good."

His teammates, however, were not surprised.

"He basically took over the game. He's a game-breaker, man," said offensive lineman Bradley Sowell. "He returned a punt, had a bunch of touchdowns. He's fast. We tried to utilize him with a bunch of zones and stuff, outside zones. When it came down to the end of the game, it was what we were all about."

"First touchdown out of Jeff, we were just like ‘OK, we're just going to follow Jeff. We're just going to let Jeff lead.' He did a good job," said receiver Ja-Mes Logan. "Brandon Bolden out, Enrique Davis out, him and Devin Thomas did a really good job of stepping up."

Two Take Snaps:

Zack Stoudt set the offensive tone for the Rebels early, going 3-for-4 for 33 yards on the first drive of the game. Early in the second quarter the junior signal-caller hit Jamal Mosley in the end zone for a touchdown to give Ole Miss, along with Bryson Rose's fourth point after of the day, a 28-3 advantage.

It was the first touchdown pass of Stoudt's Ole Miss career, and the first collegiate reception for the freshman tight end.

"I played OK. I made some mistakes," said Stoudt, who was 11 of 18 for 118 yards and a touchdown. "I'll look at the film tomorrow and see exactly what mistakes. But we got the win. It was nice to get the first one and get some confidence going into the SEC next week."

"I thought Zack did a good job," said Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt. "They did a lot of stunting and blitzing. Zack can sit in that pocket and take a hit, and his eyes are focused on the receiver. It takes a real guy to sit in that pocket, knowing you're going to get hit, and he can do that."

Stoudt was in on every offensive play until Randall Mackey made his first appearance as a Rebel with 11:03 to go in the third quarter. He entered with a short field as the Rebels had the football at the SIU 13. The junior quarterback rushed for six yards, followed by a Scott 7-yard rush for a touchdown.

Randall Mackey
Chuck Rounsaville

Mackey also was in on the Rebels' next series, which produced no points. Stoudt re-entered the game for the next Rebel drive. Mackey completed the Rebels' last two drives at the offensive controls.

"I felt pretty good," said Mackey, who completed his only pass, an 18-yarder to Logan in the third quarter. "Being the first time out there on the field, I kinda messed up a couple of times. But that's how it is the first time you're out there on the field. Just stay focused and drive the ball down the field. At the end of the day we got the win, so I feel good about that."

Mackey also rushed six times for 36 yards.

"Randall can escape and make things happen," Nutt said. "For Randall not playing in a month, he did very well."

Stoudt was the backup to Barry Brunetti last week. Named the starter last Monday, Stoudt said getting more reps in practice last week helped him in this week's game.

"It helps a lot," he said. "Getting with the same guys repeatedly snap after snap, you get comfortable with guys on routes, on handoffs, everything. Them hearing your calls, you hearing their calls. It was a good week and it was nice to have all those reps."

Picking Them Off:

The Rebel defense was rock solid against Brigham Young in week one, shutting out the visitors until the fourth quarter. Only then did the Rebel defense allow a scoring drive of any length in the 14-13 final score, which favored the Cougars.

The Rebel offense – and Jeff Scott – set the tone for the offense early in this one. But the Rebel defense began to show signs of 2010-type vulnerability against the Salukis.

For example, it was a touchdown-scoring drive of 16 plays and 80 yards that took 8:55 off the second-quarter clock and pulled the visitors to within three touchdowns at 28-10. SIU converted three third downs and a fourth down along the way in that drive. The touchdown was a 2-yard rush by running back Jewel Hampton that came right after a run of 16 yards for a first down by quarterback Paul McIntosh.

In the third quarter, the Rebels had difficulty stopping the Southern Illinois offense. After Charles Sawyer's interception set up the Rebels only score of the third period, SIU had another lengthy drive, this time a 77-yard, 10-play drive that ended with a 1-yard rush by Rik Hicks to make it 35-17 and give SIU some life.

A Stoudt fumble set up the next Southern Illinois score, which this time came quickly. McIntosh hit Cam Fuller in the end zone on a 31-yard pass on the first play after Stoudt's fumble. That made it 35-24 with 6:39 to go in the game.

SIU, which lost 42-24, ended the game with 420 total yards almost equally divided – 223 rushing, 197 passing.

Positively, Ole Miss intercepted Paul McIntosh four times, and Nutt was pleased with the drive-stopping efforts of the Rebel defenders on those occasions.

"Our entire secondary has a whole new mindset," Nutt said. "In the red zone, I feel like they're waiting for a turnover. The ball's up, then they're going to go get it. I'm really pleased with that. When we get interceptions, that means somebody up front is getting some pressure."

Wayne Dorsey
Chuck Rounsaville

The Rebels know they have to improve on stopping the opposing offense in drive-ending situations.

"It's something we need to work on, but as the season goes on we'll improve on it," said linebacker Mike Marry. "We'll key on that this week and try to get off the field on third downs."

A Different Boom:

Tyler Campbell, a booming punter with a national reputation, had a strategic change this game. Instead of lining up and kicking them as far as he can, Campbell was able to pin the Salukis deep on several occasions by running to his right and punting the football at a low trajectory.

He punted five times and averaged 42.2 yards. But he pinned SIU inside its 10-yard line three times.

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