Last year, it was Vanderbilt who rallied to beat Ole Miss in the final minutes. This year, the Rebels turned the table on the Commodores. With just more than a minute to go, Jeff Scott ripped off a 75-yard touchdown run to take back the lead, and Ole Miss hung on to win Thursday’s season opener, 39-35.
Vanderbilt thought it hit the knockout punch with 1:30 remaining when Austyn Carta-Samuels connected on a 34-yard touchdown pass with his tight end Steven Scheu. However, Scott answered just two plays later with the long touchdown run.
The heralded 2013 recruiting class for Ole Miss was on full display Thursday night with a number of newcomers making an impact. True freshman wide receiver Laquon Treadwell had nine catches for 82 yards, and Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s No. 1 recruit a year ago, was disruptive all night for the Rebels.
It was over when: Cody Prewitt intercepted Carta-Samuels in the final minute of the game. Vandy wide receiver Jordan Matthews had a gutsy performance, finishing with 10 catches for 178 yards and a touchdown, but the ball deflected off his hands and went right to Prewitt.
Game ball goes to: Both Scott and Treadwell deserve recognition, but the player of the game for Ole Miss was quarterback Bo Wallace. Coming off clavicle surgery in the offseason, Wallace finished 31-of-47 for 283 yards through the air, and he also rushed for 48 yards and two scores.
Stat of the game: Outside of a lull in the second quarter, the Ole Miss offense looked good all night. More importantly, the Rebels didn’t turn the ball over once. Last year, they were in the bottom half of college football in that category, turning the ball over 29 times.
What it means for Vanderbilt: It’s a crushing loss for the Commodores to open the season, but more importantly, they have to make sure Matthews is healthy going forward. He took a big hit late in the game and was throwing up on the field. He came back to make a crucial catch on that same drive, but there’s a chance he sits out the next game.
What it means for Ole Miss: Believe in the hype. The Rebels finished 7-6 a year ago, the first year under head coach Hugh Freeze, and it looks like they’re ready to take the next step this season. They got a lot of key contributions from freshmen, and Wallace made plays when he needed to.