No. 20 Ole Miss scored 20 consecutive points as it pulled away late for a 37-20 win over No. 24 Tulane.
The Green Wave went up 17-7 in the first half despite not having starting QB Michael Pratt. But two key fourth downs in the fourth quarter gave Ole Miss control as the Rebels finished the game on a 30-3 scoring run.
Kai Horton started for Pratt and appeared to get a first down on fourth and two when he dove for the marker on the sideline with 6:49 to go and Tulane trailing 20-17. Officials initially ruled that Horton was able to move the chains but a replay review showed that he had stepped out before extending the ball past the first-down marker.
On the very next play, Ole Miss QB Jaxson Dart hit Dayton Wade for a 43-yard gain. The Tulane defense forced Ole Miss into a fourth down three plays later, but Dart then made a great play to avoid the pass rush and found Michael Trigg for a 21-yard TD that extended the lead to 10. After the teams traded field goals, defensive end Jared Ivey ran in a fumble recovery for a TD to provide the winning margin.
Ole Miss’ field goal in the interim was a gutsy one too. After a false start forced the Rebels into a fourth and six, coach Lane Kiffin elected to kick a 56-yard field goal. A miss or block would have given Tulane great field position while trailing by a touchdown. But Caden Davis absolutely drilled the kick to push the lead back to two scores.
Dart finished the game 17-of-27 passing for 267 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Both teams struggled to run the ball
Ole Miss and Tulane had two of the best rushing offenses in the country a season ago. The Rebels rushed for nearly 260 yards a game and averaged over five yards a carry while Tulane averaged nearly 205 yards a contest and also rushed for over five yards a carry.
On Saturday, they barely combined to break 200 yards on the ground.
Ole Miss was unable to get its rushing game going outside of some quarterback draws from Dart in the second half. Star rusher Quinshon Judkins was kept in check with just 48 yards on 18 carries while the team rushed for just 89 yards on 35 attempts.
Tulane wasn’t much better. Makhi Hughes had 92 yards but it took him 23 carries. Overall, the Green Wave rushed for 111 yards on 45 attempts as both teams averaged 2.5 yards a carry.
Tulane still a favorite in the AAC
It’s hard to get too discouraged about Tulane after Saturday, especially if Pratt is able to return sooner rather than later. The Green Wave are one of the favorites to win the AAC and the game was much closer than the final score would lead you to believe.
Ole Miss, meanwhile, avoided its second consecutive road loss to an AAC team. The Rebels opened the 2019 season at Memphis and lost 15-10. That game was the final season for Matt Luke and his firing at the end of the year led to Kiffin’s arrival in Oxford.