Ole Miss Defense Shines During 2019 Grove Bowl
OXFORD, Miss. (Ole Miss Athletics/WCBI) – Ole Miss Football’s Landshark defense prevailed, 29-25, over the offense in the 2019 Nissan Grove Bowl to conclude the spring slate Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
“Overall it was a good day,” Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke said. “I don’t think we had any major injuries. I thought that it was a competitive game. I saw some flashes out of some young guys which was good. I thought the defense overall pretty much controlled the scrimmage. It was good to see Grant Tisdale throw a touchdown and for Braylon Sanders to make some plays. I thought Tylan Knight made some big plays down the field. Overall, we got what we wanted. We tried to keep it vanilla.”
An aura of added excitement surrounded this year’s annual contest following an offseason that included several new coaching additions and yet another top-25 recruiting class. Most notably, new Rebel offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez ran through new schemes and defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre continued the process of shifting to a 3-4 defense.
The Ole Miss defense (wearing red) held onto a 27-0 lead given at the start of the game. The offense worked to overcome the score but fell just short. The defense could increase its point total through turnovers that led directly to scores, whether by returns for touchdowns or returns into field goal range.
“(Getting after the quarterback) is definitely the defense we’re trying to be,” Sanogo said. “Just a hard team that’s going to try to get after you that’s going to be running full-speed, non-stop. Coach (MacIntyre) wants us to bring it onto the field when it’s time to go, that’s just going to be our mentality. It’s going to be our identity as a defense.”
The defense held strong with three interceptions combined from Ryder Anderson, C.J. Miller, and Kam White – the latter of whom sealed the game with a 100-yard return on a two-point attempt in the offensive’s attempt to tie the game at 27-27 on the final play of the game.
“I thought they were able to pressure the quarterback in some of their nickel fronts,” Luke said. “Qaadir Sheppard showed up on some edges and some guys were making some plays and flying around. I think Sam Williams showed up a couple of times. I liked the turnover backed up in the red zone. Overall, I thought they did some really good things.”
On the offensive side, quarterback Matt Corral finished with 22 completions for 240 yards, a touchdown pass and one interception. Grant Tisdale threw for 37 yards, while Kinkead Dent tallied 36 yards through the air and 50 on the ground.
Freshman running back Snoop Conner racked up a team-high 52 yards on 10 carries. Sophomore wideout Tylan Knight impressed with five receptions that covered 91 yards and a touchdown. Junior Braylon Sanders also found the endzone with a touchdown reception. Juniors Luke Logan and Isaac Way nailed field goals of 30 and 32 yards, respectively.
The offense opened the game with Logan’s field goal. The defense held, though, courtesy of Anderson’s interception at the one-yard line two drives later. Way then added his three points in the opening minutes of the second quarter.
On the very next drive, Corral found a streaking Dontario Drummond (three receptions, 38 yards) for 24 yards to set up a 1st-and-goal situation. Corral connected with Sanders from four yards out to the back corner of the endzone to cut the deficit to 27-13.
In the third quarter, Tisdale dropped a perfect ball into the outreached hands of Knight to cut further into the lead. The 19-yard TD pass resulted in six points, but the ensuing extra point was missed.
The final drive of the game presented a chance to tie the game with a touchdown and a two-point conversion. Junior Grant Restmeyer used a 10-yard rush to convert on fourth down and got the ball to the six-yard line. Hunter Holt ran the ball to on the next three tries, scoring on 4th-and-Goal from the one-yard line, pulling the offense within two at 27-25.
The two-point attempt fell into the hands White, however, giving the defense the 29-25 victory following his 100-yard return.
The Rebels kickoff the 2019 regular season at Memphis Saturday, Aug. 31 before hosting SEC foe Arkansas on Sept. 7