Situation: Third-and-4 from the Ole Miss 31-yard line with 14:39 left in the first quarter.
Play: Freshman wide receiver A.J. Brown didn’t take long to endear himself to Ole Miss fans. The former four-star prospect, who signed with the Rebels over in-state rival Mississippi State in February, notched his first career catch on third-and-4 early in the first quarter and raced 36 yards to the Florida State 33-yard line. Four plays later, quarterback Chad Kelly found Damore’ea Stringfellow for a three-yard touchdown. Ole Miss didn’t score again in the quarter, but the first drive of the 2016 season couldn’t have been more impressive.
Score: 7-0, Ole Miss
Situation: Second-and-goal from the Florida State 3-yard line with 12:48 to go in the second quarter.
Play: D.K. Metcalf saw Brown’s first career catch and raised him a first career touchdown. The true freshman Metcalf, an Oxford, Miss., product, tipped a somewhat underthrown pass from Kelly over the contesting cornerback and hauled in a three-yard touchdown to give the Rebels a 14-3 lead. Metcalf’s impressive grab was set up by a couple of dazzling plays by Kelly. First was his 13-yard run on third-and-3 at the FSU 48. The second came on the next play, a 26-yard completion to senior tight end Evan Engram up the left seam. Metcalf’s score was only the jumping-off point of a touchdown-filled second quarter, one that saw Ole Miss tally 21 points to FSU’s 10.
Score: 14-3, Ole Miss
D.K. Metcalf/USA TODAY images
Situation: Third-and-17 from the Florida State 21-yard line with 9:46 to go in the second quarter.
Play: Engram long ago acknowledged his lack of on-field chemistry, at times, with Kelly last season. If the first half against Florida State was any indication, the countless hours spent in the spring and the offseason strengthening their relationship was well worth it. Engram hauled in seven passes for 73 yards in the frame alone, including a 21-yard touchdown to give the Rebels a commanding 21-3 lead. Engram showed he’s ready to step in as option No. 1 in place of now-Minnesota Viking Laquon Treadwell, consistently separating from Florida State defenders in the middle of the field.
Score: 21-3, Ole Miss
Situation: Third-and-10 from the Ole Miss 16-yard line with 33 seconds to go in the second quarter.
Play: Ole Miss had dominated the first half on both sides of the ball, its strong defensive line oftentimes closing potential running lanes for star Seminole running back Dalvin Cook and creating consistent pressure on redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois. But after Ole Miss scored yet another touchdown — this time an 11-yard scamper by senior running back Akeem Judd — Florida State orchestrated a near-perfect two-minute drill, marching 75 yards in nine plays and 2:34 of time for its first touchdown of the game. Francois found wide receiver Travis Rudolph, who had turned around Ole Miss safety Tony Conner, for a 16-yard score. All of the sudden, the Camping World Kickoff was a game again.
Score: 28-13, Ole Miss
Situation: Second-and-10 from the Ole Miss 32-yard line with 11:54 to go in the third quarter.
Play: Florida State won the pregame toss and deferred its decision to the second half, meaning it would get a chance immediately to build on the momentum it carried into the second half following its two-minute score in the second quarter. But a solid drive stalled around the Ole Miss 40, and the Seminoles were forced to settle for a field goal. Fortunately for them, Kelly was in a charitable mood, throwing his second interception on the succeeding drive to set up another FSU score. Francois ran for 31 yards on second-and-10 to reach the Ole Miss 1, and fullback Freddie Stevenson plunged ahead for six to cap a three-play, game-altering drive.
Score: 28-23, Ole Miss
Situation: Second-and-9 at the Ole Miss 16-yard line with 10:55 to go in the third quarter.
Play: Ole Miss’ 15-point halftime lead didn’t last long. Kelly turned the ball over for the third time, this time going with a fumble, to give Florida State a short field at the Rebel 11 with just over 10 minutes showing in the third quarter. Cook rushed for eight yards on back-to-back plays to start the Seminole drive, and Kermit Whitfield finished off the go-ahead and, ultimately, deciding score from three yards out. The Seminoles failed to convert a two-point conversion attempt, but the damage was done. Another touchdown and a field goal meant 33 unanswered points, and the Ole Miss meltdown was complete. For the third quarter, Florida State outgained the Rebels 214 to -7.
Score: 29-28, Florida State