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Football: No. 14 Ole Miss routs Cajuns, 56-15

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, September 13, 2014


La Lafayette Mississi_Foot.jpg

Ole Miss running back I’Tavius Mathers (5) hurdles over UL defenders on his way to a 56-yard touchdown run Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. (Photo: Associated Press)



Costly giveaways. Too many big plays permitted. Not nearly enough answers on offense.

The Ragin’ Cajuns were hurt by all that and more Saturday, when they fell 56-15 to No. 14 Ole Miss in front of a sold-out crowd of 60,937 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium here.

Rebels senior quarterback Bo Wallace picked UL’s defense apart, completing 23 of 28 passes for 316 yards and four touchdowns as the Cajuns fell to 1-2 and Ole Miss improved to 3-0.

The Rebels rolled up 554 yards in total offense and Wallace had his way throwing the ball, easily locating one target after another amid broad soft spots in UL’s zone pass defense.

UL, meanwhile, suffered from three Terrance Broadway interceptions and a critical Alonzo Harris fumble.

“We just didn’t execute,” Broadway said. “I’ve got to play better. It’s no secret. My performance tonight was unacceptable, and it won’t happen again. I will fix it.”

“You don’t come into a Top 15 team, with the players they’ve got, and turn it over like you do, and have any expectations of winning the game,” Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth added. “That was the difference in the ballgame tonight: turnovers and giving them some easy points.”

It may not have been the only difference, but it certainly didn’t help matters.

A rough day started right away for UL, which – down 7-0 after I’Tavius Mathers outran at least three Cajuns en route to a 56-yard touchdown – failed to answer the Rebels’ first TD and allowed Ole Miss to run up a 28-0 lead before finally getting on the board.

UL drove into the red zone on its ensuing possession after the Mathers TD, but Harris fumbled at the 6-yard line. Trae Elston forced the miscue.

“That’s something I have to fix,” Harris said. “I feel like it’s bad ball security on my part. I went to run the guy over, trying to gain extra yards and forgetting about the ball security.”

As early as it was, the giveaway seemed to take as much steam out of the Cajuns as running back Kenneth Dixon’s 99-yard TD run did in the first quarter of a 48-20 Louisiana Tech win over UL one week earlier.

“That’s totally my fault,” Harris said. “I feel like it took a lot out of both sides of the ball, offense and defense.”

“It did. We were fixin’ to answer right back,” Hudspeth added. “The offensive line did a nice job of getting some big holes, and ’Zo (Harris) ran the ball extremely strong. Terrance (Broadway) ran the ball nice on the option. We were able to move the ball, drive the ball down the field against … to me, one of the best defensives in the country. And then we came up empty there.”

Hudspeth even warned against that prior to the game.

“I said for us to even keep it close, we’re gonna have to be perfect with the turnovers and we’re gonna have to get some,” he said. “I said if we do, we’ll have an opportunity maybe to get this game to the fourth quarter, and find a way to pull to this thing out.

“But when you turn it over four times, on the road, in the SEC, against a Top 15 team, there is no hope of winning a football game.”

Wallace went right to work after Harris’ fumble, completing all six passes on a seven-play, 94-yard TD drive that ended with a 40-yard TD pass to running back Jaylen Walton.

“They got us to bite on the run up front, and read off the wrong keys,” UL defensive end Justin Hamilton said. “Then they stepped back on the play-action pass, and that was about it.”

Walton would tack on one more touchdown before the day was done, running 71 yards to help make it 49-6 in the third quarter.

After Vince Sanders caught back-to-back TD passes of 14 and 24 yards from Wallace to help put the Rebels up 28-0 midway through the second quarter – Broadway was intercepted between the two – UL did put up some points before the opening half was done.

It did so with two Hunter Stover field goals, one from 32 yards with 1:55 to go before the break and the other – after a Sean Thomas pick on a rare Wallace miscue – nine seconds prior to halftime.

“We still had lot of hope (then),” Harris said. “The guys weren’t down. We were rallying around each other, trying to find a way to come out and get the score back up to par – at least get back in the game.

“We didn’t have any sad faces,” he added. “The coaches came in and gave us great ideas of what they wanted the second half. We came out and tried to execute it. It just didn’t turn out as well as we planned.”

Thomas’ interception was UL’s first turnover gained of the season.

By the time the third quarter was done, though, Ole Miss was comfortably up 49-13.

Wallace opened the second half with a 13-yard TD pass to Cody Core, who made an acrobatic catch in the end zone.

“They just did a nice job of running routes, being patient, taking what the defense gave them,” Hudspeth said.

Ole Miss pushed its lead to 42-6 with a 59-yard pick-six by cornerback Senquez Golson, who climbed over James Butler for the interception after Broadway telegraphed a pass to the Cajun senior wideout.

Walton’s 71-yard scoring run helped push the Rebel lead to 49-6 with 7:48 left in the third quarter.

Harris did run up the middle for an 8-yard TD run with 1:04 left in the third, but by then the Cajuns were well on their way to a second straight loss.

Jeremy Liggins scored on a 2-yard run for Ole Miss’ final TD, and a late Hamilton-forced safety accounted to UL’s final two points.

“We didn’t play well on either side of the ball, but our kids played hard for four quarters,” said Hudspeth, who was not nearly as down as he was after the Louisiana Tech loss. “If they do that, we can build on that.

“Our football right now is not clicking on all cylinders. That’s a part of football, that’s a part of life. And we’ve got to, as coaches, find a way to get our team (doing that),” he added. “We’ve got a lot of football left. That’s the important part. I told our team, ‘We’ve got the effort part fixed. Now we’ve got to fix the execution, and we’ve to fix the ball security issues, and we’ve got to get some turnovers.’ ”