OXFORD, Miss (Ole Miss Athletics) — A dominant rushing and defensive performance propelled the Ole Miss football team to a 31-6 Homecoming victory over Vanderbilt at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday.
The Ole Miss (3-3, 2-1 SEC) ground attack racked up 413 yards, the most against an SEC opponent since racking up 443 against Vanderbilt in 1979. The defense gave up the fewest points since 2015 (Texas A&M, 3) and stayed off the field, holding Vanderbilt (1-4, 0-3 SEC) to 2-for-17 on third downs and 0-11 on third down attempts from seven yards or longer.
John Rhys Plumlee ran for 165 yards and a score. He also connected on 10-of-18 passes for 99 yards. Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Conner each added long touchdown runs of 78 and 84 yards on consecutive drives, respectively, the first time in Ole Miss history that the Rebels have recorded runs of 75 yards or more in the same game.
Lakia Henry tallied a career-high 15 tackles and added one of three sacks for the Landshark defense, which also racked up nine tackles for loss for the fourth time this season.
The Rebel offense opened with a strong drive courtesy of a 54-yard rush by Plumlee. The breakaway run by the freshman signal caller set up a 41-yard field goal by Luke Logan to make it a 3-0 early advantage.
Vanderbilt then muffed the ensuing kickoff and started the drive on its own 7-yard line. The Rebel defense took advantage of the miscue and came away with a quick three-and-out, allowing just two yards on the drive. Ole Miss took over at the Vanderbilt 44, and it took just three plays for Plumlee to dash 33 yards into the end zone to make it a 10-0 Rebel lead. Ole Miss held Vanderbilt to 20 yards of offense in the first quarter.
The Commodores got on the board early in the second after a 43-yard connection between Riley Neal (18-for-30, 140 yards passing) and Kalija Lipscomb. The long passing play set up a 22-yard Ryley Guay field goal.
Vanderbilt tacked on three more points just before the break after the Rebels failed to convert on fourth down at the Vanderbilt 38. Neal found Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Ben Bresnahan for a couple of big gains to set up a 43-yard Guay field goal to make it 10-6 at the half.
The Rebels’ halftime adjustments quickly paid off. After a stop by the Rebel defense, Ealy broke free for a 78-yard touchdown two plays into the ensuing drive. Ole Miss then came up with another defensive stop, setting up for another explosive touchdown by a freshman back. This time, on the third play of the drive, Conner outran the Vanderbilt defense for an 84-yard score, the first of his career that pushed the Rebel lead to 24-6.
The Rebels got on the board again when Scottie Phillips cut up the middle for a 24-yard rushing score with 4:29 left to play, giving Ole Miss its final 31-6 edge.
Brendan Williams and Austrian Robinson, the 2019 Chucky Mullins Courage Award recipient, teamed up on a sack to push Vanderbilt out of field goal range on their final drive – a fitting end to a game in which Ole Miss paid tribute to Mullins by wearing navy jerseys and powder blue helmets with the endzones also colored in with powder blue.
Ole Miss travels to Columbia to face Missouri next Saturday, Oct. 12. The game will air on ESPN2, beginning at 6 p.m. CT.