Ole Miss’ embattled defense stepped up its game and shut down No. 11 Texas A&M on Saturday night, carrying the No. 15 Rebels past the Aggies 29-19 in Oxford, Miss.
Ranked 104th in total defense entering the game, the Rebels (8-2, 4-2 SEC) blanked Texas A&M in the first half and forced two second-half turnovers that produced 14 points.
Ole Miss held advantages of 408-91 in total yardage, 23-5 in first downs and led 15-0 in the first half.
Overall, Matt Corral (24-of-37) passed for 247 yards and a score to Dontario Drummond.
Jerrion Ealy churned out 152 yards on 24 carries, and Snoop Conner rushed for his team-leading 11th touchdown.
Texas A&M’s Zach Calzada went 24-of-41 for 237 yards with two interceptions. Devon Achane ran for 110 yards on 12 rushes with two TDs for the Aggies (7-3, 4-3).
After Caden Costa’s 33-yard field goal put the Rebels on the board, Ole Miss gambled on its next series.
Possessing the most fourth-down attempts and conversions in the nation (24-of-35), coach Lane Kiffin went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 2.
Corral found Drummond open over the middle for his seventh TD to make it 10-0 at 6:48, and Costa later tacked on a 32-yarder for a 13-0 advantage.
After the Aggies’ defense made a fourth-down stand at the 1 to force a turnover on downs late in the half, Isaiah Spiller was tackled in the end zone for a safety.
Texas A&M’s offense — which did not find the end zone in last week’s win over Auburn — sputtered again, punting on its first five possessions and surrendering the safety on the sixth.
Seth Small’s 30-yard field goal put the visitors on the board five minutes into the second half, and Achane’s 24-yard scoring run on the next series trimmed it to 15-10.
Early in the fourth, the Rebels failed on a fake field goal, and the Aggies made it 15-13 with Small’s second boot — a 43-yarder with 10:19 remaining.
With the Aggies at their own 12, Ashanti Cistrunk batted down Calzada’s pass. Then the defensive back pick off Calzada on the next play, and Conner’s ensuing 13-yard TD run made it 22-13 with 6:32 left.
A.J. Finley put the game away by stepping in front of Calzada’s pass and returning the interception 52 yards for a pick-six with only 4:50 on the clock.
Achane’s second TD rounded out the scoring.
–Field Level Media