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Ole Miss holds off SLU Lions 40-29 in Oxford on Saturday

Ole Miss holds off SLU Lions 40-29 in Oxford on Saturday

Author: Action News 17/Saturday, September 14, 2019/Categories: Front Page, Latest Stories


OXFORD, Miss. – No. 23/24 Southeastern Louisiana nearly pulled off an upset, but host Ole Miss held off the Lions for a 40-29 victory Saturday afternoon at Vaught Hemingway Stadium.

The Lions (1-1) were within a touchdown in the fourth quarter and drove deep into Ole Miss territory. However, an interception by Donta Evans thwarted the SLU drive. Ole Miss (2-1) drove down to hit a clinching field goal in the final minute to hold off the Southeastern upset bid.

Southeastern trailed by 17 early in the third quarter, but the Lions would not go away. Quarterback Chason Virgil found Juwan Petit-Frere and Bransen Schwebel for touchdown passes to cut the lead to 34-29 heading into the final quarter. Unfortunately, the host Rebels used a pair of Luke Logan fourth-quarter field goals to thwart the rally.

“We played with great effort tonight and had a chance in the fourth quarter which is all you can ask for,” Southeastern head coach Frank Scelfo said. “We didn’t blink when we were down 17 and that’s a testament to the strength of the culture we’ve developed. Ultimately, we can’t commit four turnovers and have special teams breakdowns and expect to beat a good team like Ole Miss.”

Virgil threw for 309 yards and a pair of scores on 29-of-44 passing, but also was intercepted three times. Devonte Williams (seven catches, 65 yards), Austin Mitchell (6-67), Schwebel (5-32), Petit-Frere (3-74) and CJ Turner (3-39) were the top targets for Virgil. Williams and Marcus Cooper each rushed for a touchdown, as SLU put up its highest point total versus an SEC opponent since bringing the program back in 2003.

On the defensive side, Isaac Adeyemi-Berglund had two sacks, forced two fumbles and recovered a fumble for the Lions. Alexis Ramos led SLU with 11 tackles, while Donniel Ward-Magee broke up a pair of passes. Josh Carr, Jr. had two tackles for loss and Feletoa Ailua was credited with a fumble recovery.

Scottie Phillips (26 carries, 103 yards) and Jerrion Early (9-95) paced an Ole Miss rushing attack that finished with 220 yards on 50 carries. 146 of those yards came on four plays, as the Rebels were able to bust several long plays. Under center for the Rebels, Matt Corral was an efficient 21-for-30 for 239 yards and two scores with Elijah Moore (seven catches, 88 yards, 1 TD) serving as his top target.

Jon Haynes, Donta Evans and Myles Hartfield each had interceptions to lead the Ole Miss defensive effort.

First Quarter
Ole Miss took the early lead with a 12-play, 72-yard drive after the opening kickoff. Moore hauled in a nine-yard pass from Corral to give Ole Miss a 6-0 lead.

On the second play from scrimmage for the Southeastern offense, Virgil took a deep shot to Mitchell and was intercepted by Hatfield. However, SLU took it right back when Adeyemi-Berglund jumped on a Phillips fumble.

The Lions drove inside the Ole Miss red zone and got on the board with a 30-yard Bryce Broussard field goal to cut the lead to 6-3 with 6:47 left in the first quarter. However, Ealy took the ensuing kickoff back 94 yards for a touchdown to put the Rebels up, 13-3.

Both defenses stiffened over the next several drives, though Virgil narrowly overthrew a wide-open Mitchell on what would’ve been a sure-fire touchdown. Williams set up Southeastern near midfield after a 25-yard punt return to near midfield to end the quarter.

Second Quarter
Virgil found Williams and Petit-Frere for consecutive 18-yard completions, then Cooper raced in from 14 yards out to cut the lead to 13-10 with 13:12 remaining in the half.

Ole Miss again quickly answered, as Ealy broke off consecutive long runs – the second a 30-yard score to put the Rebels ahead, 20-10, with 12:28 left.

The Rebels forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, but the Lion defense held Ole Miss to a field goal attempt. Logan pushed the 43-yard try wide left to keep the lead at 20-10.

Southeastern then embarked on a 10-play, 72-yard scoring drive. Virgil connected with Mitchell on 11 and 14-yard completions, then converted a fourth-and-six with a 10-yard completion to Schwebel. On the next play, Williams scampered in from 20 yards out to cut the Rebel advantage to 20-17 with 6:29 left in the quarter.

The Lions forced Ole Miss into a three-and-out, then Virgil found Turner for a diving 35-yard catch into Rebel territory. Two plays later, Haynes stepped in front of a Virgil throw to end the drive with an interception and give Ole Miss the ball at its own 48-yard line.

Nine plays later, the Rebels padded their advantage when Corral found Jason Pellerin from five yards out to put Ole Miss up, 27-17, with less than a minute left in the half.

Southeastern didn’t rest on its laurels, as Virgil marched the Lions into Ole Miss territory. However, Nathan Holliday’s 53-yard field goal attempt at the end of the half fell short.

Third Quarter
After SLU went three-and-out on the first possession of the second half, Ole Miss covered 69 yards on nine plays on the ensuing drive. Phillips scored from 27 yards out to give the Rebels a 34-17 advantage with 10:27 left in the period.

Southeastern answered on its next possession, as Petit-Frere ran down a 45-yard Virgil pass to cap a nine-play, 78-yard drive. Broussard’s PAT missed, but SLU was within 34-23 with 6:11 left in the third quarter.

After the two teams traded three-and-outs, Adeyemi-Berglund stripped Corral and Ailua fell on the loose ball at the Rebel nine-yard line. Two plays later, Virgil found Schwebel from five yards out to send SLU into the third quarter down, 34-29, after a failed two-point conversion attempt.

Fourth Quarter
Ole Miss opened the final quarter with a 14-play, 78-yard drive that the Lions stopped inside the 10-yard line. Luke Logan netted a 22-yard field goal to put the Rebels up, 37-29, with 10:38 left.

Southeastern drove inside the Ole Miss 30-yard line on a methodical drive that took over five minutes off the clock. However, on fourth-and-11 from the Rebel 28-yard line, Evans picked off Virgil to end Southeastern’s last chance.

Ole Miss took nearly five minutes off the clock on its final drive, as Logan closed out the scoring with a 32-yard field goal with 39 seconds remaining.

Petit-Frere returned the ensuing kickoff 66 yards inside the Ole Miss 30-yard line to give SLU one last scoring chance, but Virgil was sacked and then saw his Hail Mary attempt at the end of the game fall incomplete.

Up Next
Southeastern will return home to open Southland Conference play on Saturday, Sept. 21, hosting Lamar at 7 p.m. in Strawberry Stadium. The game will air on ESPN+. It also can be heard on the Southeastern Sports Radio Network (KSLU-FM (90.9), Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM and The Boss 103.7 FM/1400 AM WFPR), online at www.LionSports.net/listenlive and via the Radio FX and TuneIn Radio apps.

The SLU-Lamar game will also double as the annual Hall of Fame Game. The 2019 Southeastern Athletics Hall of Fame class of Bryan Bennett (football), Stefan Lopez (baseball), Karin Smith Gadberry (softball) and Simmie Yarborough (football) will be inducted in a private ceremony earlier in the day and recognized at halftime of the Lions-Cardinals contest.

It will also be Solid Gold Saturday in Strawberry Stadium. Fans are encouraged to wear gold and the first 500 fans will receive free gold t-shirts courtesy of McDonald’s and Southeastern Athletics.

The annual Family Day promotion in conjunction with The Office of Student Engagement will happen before the game with exclusive perks. Visit http://www.southeastern.edu/admin/lead_dev/dsala/family_day/index.html for more Family Day information.
 
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