Football Airs It Out in 52-28 Victory Over Vanderbilt

Published 1:54 pm Monday, October 10, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Despite entering the game with the No. 4 rush offense in the nation, the Rebels took to the air in record-setting fashion to take down Vanderbilt, 52-28, in Nashville on Saturday.

The Rebels (6-0, 2-0 SEC) saw career days from Jaxson Dart, Jonathan Mingo and Jordan Watkins as the team logged a season-high 591 total yards of offense en route to their road win over the Commodores (3-3, 0-2 SEC) at FirstBank Stadium.

Dart’s day ended with the sophomore finishing 25-of-32 for a career-high 448 yards along with a season-high three passing touchdowns. The game ties Dart for fifth in the Ole Miss record books for single-game passing yards, matching Jordan Ta’amu’s 2018 performance against Southern Illinois.

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Dart’s stat-line can be credited in large part to his favorite target on the day, Jonathan Mingo, who broke the Ole Miss single-game receiving record set by Elijah Moore in 2020 (238 yards) by logging nine catches for 247 yards and two touchdowns. The performance shatters Mingo’s previous career-high of 136 yards in his standout game last season against Tulane.

Mingo’s day also currently stands as the nation’s top single-game receiving performance of the year, surpassing Kent State’s Dante Cephas, who logged 246 yards through the air a week ago against Ohio.

Also bringing in a career-high in receiving yards on the day was Watkins, who ended his day with 117 yards on seven catches, including a 61-yard touchdown strike in the opening half.

The Rebel backfield still found the endzone on numerous occasions, with the team tallying four rushing touchdowns on the day – including two more from freshman running back Quinshon Judkins. Judkins has now scored touchdowns in each of his last four games, with his eight rushing touchdowns on the year marking the most by an Ole Miss freshman since John Rhys Plumlee scored 12 in 2019.

The Rebel offense opened the game with a drive consisting of 13 plays and 64 total yards before Jonathan Cruz notched the first points of the day with a 35-yard field goal for Ole Miss. The 3-0 lead didn’t last long for the Rebels however, with Vanderbilt responding with a 23-yard field goal of their own to level things out at 3-3.

A turnover on downs and an interception by Dart on succeeding drives for the Rebels gave the Commodores early momentum in Nashville, with a touchdown and another field goal by Vanderbilt building their lead up to 10 points early in the second quarter.

Needing a response, the Rebels turned to the hands of the transfer Watkins, with Dart connecting with the junior on a 61-yard touchdown strike over the middle to cut the Commodore lead down to 13-10 with 10:26 remaining in the half. The play marked Watkins’ first touchdown in a Rebel jersey.

Vanderbilt’s offense continued to move the ball, with the Commodores linking together a 15-play, 75-yard scoring drive that took 8:54 off of the clock. Running back Ray Davis ultimately punched it across the Rebel goal line, extending the lead back up to 10 for the Commodores.

With just 1:32 on the clock and a pair of timeouts, the Rebels’ two-minute offense took action. A deep shot by Dart to Mingo for 48 yards set Ole Miss up on the 3-yard line, and just three plays later Judkins would punch in his seventh rushing touchdown of the season to send the game into halftime with the Rebels trailing 20-17.

To open the second half, the Ole Miss defense made a huge stop to get the ball back to the Rebel offense. An 83-yard scoring drive would follow for the Rebels, with Zach Evans ripping off a 24-yard touchdown scamper to give Ole Miss its first lead since the opening quarter.

A Commodore fumble on the next drive gave the Rebels the ball deep in the Vanderbilt red zone, where Judkins found the end zone for the second time of the day to build the Rebel lead up to 31-20.

The game quickly turned into the Mingo show, with the senior snagging two 70-plus yard touchdown passes to build the Rebel lead to 25 points midway through the fourth quarter.

With the Rebels scoring 35 points unanswered, a late Vanderbilt touchdown strike to Will Sheppard proved too little too late for the Commodores, with the Rebels adding one last touchdown run by Matt Jones late to grab the 52-28 win.

The Ole Miss defense was headlined by starting safety AJ Finley, who finished with a career-high 13 total tackles on the day including 0.5 TFLs. This marks the third straight game in which Finley has logged nine or more tackles for the Rebel defense.

The Rebels now return home to face the Auburn Tigers at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on October 15. Kickoff from Oxford is scheduled for 11 a.m. CT with TV coverage being provided by ESPN.