Offensive explosion lifts Rebels past SIU, 76-41

(Image Source: MGN)
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OXFORD, Miss. (Ole Miss Athletics) - Senior quarterback Jordan Ta'amu surpassed career marks in touchdowns and total yards, while the Landshark D tallied two scores in the second half to power Ole Miss to a 76-41 victory over Southern Illinois on Saturday.

Ta'amu, fresh off an explosive season-opening performance vs. Texas Tech on Sept. 1, threw five touchdown passes on 23-of-33 passing for 448 yards -- the third-most yards ever thrown by a Rebel quarterback.

However, the Rebels (2-0) ran into an effective Saluki offense that racked up 629 yards of total offense, helping Southern (1-1) to a 38-35 advantage at the break. But the Ole Miss defense permanently took back the momentum on the opening play of the fourth quarter, as Vernon Dasher picked off an errant Sam Straub (29-of-47, 382 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT) pass and returned it 88 yards for his first career score, giving the Rebels a 55-41 lead. In total, Ole Miss would close the game on a 41-3 run in the second half, which included a two-yard score by Isaiah Woullard (7 carries, 23 yards, 1 TD), a 56-yard fumble recovery by Victor Evans (4 tackles, 2.0 TFL) and a late-game one-yard scamper by backup QB Matt Corral (1-of-2, 31 yards) after the pick-six.

At 117 points, both Ole Miss and Southern combined for the most single-game points scored in Rebel history. The Rebels' 76 points and two defensive touchdowns were the most since 2015.

Four Rebels scored their first-career touchdowns, as Elijah Moore (1 rec., 50 yards, 1 TD) and Braylon Sanders (4 rec., 133 yards, 1 TD) got in on the N.W.O. fun for their first-ever Rebel touchdowns. A.J. Brown (8 rec., 158 yards, 2 TD) and D.K. Metcalf (7 rec., 93 yards, 1 TD) didn't relinquish the belt for long, though, as both racked up huge numbers on the receiving end of the career day by Ta'amu. With Ta'amu and Corral's passing yards combined, Ole Miss threw for 479 yards through the air today -- the second-most in Rebel history

Ole Miss was successful on the ground as well, with Scottie Phillips passing the century mark for the second time in just his second game at Ole Miss with 107 yards and two scores.

The first half was a back-and-forth showdown between the two hot offenses, with SIU coming out swinging. The Salukis forced a three-and-out on the initial Rebel drive of the game, and proceeded to run down the field and score on a nine-yard pass from Straub to Nigel Kilby less than two minutes into the action. The Salukis ended the half on a wild 70-yard catch-and-run by receiver Raphael Leonard (6 rec., 117 yards, 2 TD), but the Rebel defense started to slow Southern in the third quarter before the eventual fourth-quarter explosion.