Moore, Corral light up scoreboard to end losing streak
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - As potent as the Ole Miss Rebels have been offensively in 2020, it was near perfection for the majority of play on Halloween night. The Rebels scored early and often in a dominant 54-21 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium, setting plenty of records along the way.
Elijah Moore put on a record-setting performance in the first half. He became the only Rebel to have multiple 200-yard receiving games in a single season, broke A.J. Brown's school record for yards in a single game (238) and tied Brown and Laquon Treadwell's school record for receptions in a game (14). Moore's three touchdown catches made him the first Rebel to score that many since Treadwell in 2015.
"I try not to focus on that, because that's not the overall goal, that's just stuff you go to after the game," Moore said. "It's a blessing. I thank God, but I just want to win. That's the best feeling right now is that we won."
Matt Corral completed 31-of-34 passes for 412 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions. His 19-for-19 start in the first half broke Eli Manning's record for consecutive completions that stood for 19 years. His 91.2 completion percentage is also a school record for a minimum of 30 attempts and tied the SEC record set by Tennessee's Joshua Dobbs.
Besides Moore, Jonathan Mingo finished second on the team with six catches and 90 yards. Dontario Drummond, Kenny Yeboah and Braylon Sanders all combined for four touchdown grabs with the Rebel tight end Yeboah catching two to tie Moore with a team-high six on the year.
On the ground, Jerrion Ealy rushed for 95 yards on 15 carries but snapped a string of six consecutive games with a rushing touchdown. Henry Parrish Jr. also added 51 yards on seven carries, both career-highs for the true freshman. Snoop Conner had the team's only rushing touchdown.
In total, the Rebels had 641 yards of total offense, just six shy of the most ever by a Rebel team in an SEC game, previously set earlier this year against Alabama.
Defensively, the Rebels allowed their lowest point total of the season (21) and the fewest rushing yards (102) since last season against New Mexico State. A.J. Finley led the Rebels with 12 total tackles and recorded an interception and fumble recovery. Lakia Henry, Jalen Jordan and Jacquez Jones combined for 19 total tackles. In total, the Rebels gave up 421 yards, the second-best mark of the season for the Landshark defense.
From the very first drive, the Rebels were not going to be denied. Ole Miss received the opening kickoff and wasted little time getting on the scoreboard with an uptempo offense. Snoop Conner scored his 10th career touchdown and fifth of the season, capping off 10-play, 71-yard drive on the Rebels' opening possession. The Rebels led 7-0 just 3:19 into the game.
Vandy responded by getting to the Ole Miss 30-yard line offensively, but a big third down sack from Lakia Henry forced the drive to stall. The Rebels then drove 93 yards in 14 plays, ending with a touchdown pass from Matt Corral to Kenny Yeboah from nine yards out. Ole Miss had a 14-0 lead with 2:49 left in the first quarter. Yeboah's fifth score of the season allowed him to tie Doug Zeigler, Ralph Smith, Johnny Brewer and Jack Stribling for ninth all-time in touchdowns by a Rebel tight end.
Following a three-and-out, Ole Miss just needed one play to take a three-score lead. Matt Corral connected with Elijah Moore from 36 yards out. With 49 seconds left in the first quarter, the Rebels led 21-0. Moore passed Mike Wallace for 10th all-time in receiving yards.
"I just want to keep going," Moore said. "Records are meant to be broken, but overall goal is just to win. As long as we have that through, that's the most important thing."
The Rebels did just that with the offense clicking on all cylinders. Corral ended with first quarter completing a perfect 9-for-9 and throwing for 143 yards.
Vanderbilt put themselves on the scoreboard with 12:08 left in the second quarter. Quarterback Ken Seals found Ben Bresnahan all alone on the sideline and the Commodore tight end found the end zone from 43 yards out. The Rebel lead was cut to 21-7.
Moore continued his record-setting performance on the following drive and ended it with a one-yard TD grab motioning through the backfield with 8:26 left in the second quarter, his third score of the game. Ole Miss had a 27-7 lead following a missed PAT.
On that drive, Moore also passed J.R. Ambrose for ninth all-time in receiving yards. Moore would follow that up with yet another touchdown with 1:58 left in the first half with a 28 yard TD grab from Corral. Ole Miss led 33-7 following a failed two-point conversion.
The Commodores quickly responded with another touchdown of their own with 23 seconds left until halftime. Ken Seals found Chris Pierce from 16 yards out to make the score 33-14 going into the locker room.
Ole Miss finished the first half with 409 yards of total offense, 318 of them from Corral in the air. Moore had 12 catches for 223 yards.
"(Moore) asked me to start the third quarter 'what's the most you've ever had as a receiver?' I think he wanted to break that record," said Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin.
As the gap widened on the scoreboard, Moore ultimately fell short of that mark, but he still added a bit more as Ole Miss secured the win in Nashville.
Vanderbilt began the second half with a pair of first downs, but all for not as they had to punt the football away. The Rebels proceeded to drive 91 yards in only eight plays as Corral found Dontario Drummond from 14 yards out. Following a successful two-point conversion, Ole Miss had a 41-14 lead with 8:49 left in the third quarter. The Commodores fumbled away the ensuing kickoff and Corral made them pay with yet another touchdown pass.
The sophomore out of Ventura, California, found Yeboah a second time from nine yards out, giving him six on the season to tie Moore for the team lead. With 7:06 left in the third, Ole Miss led 48-14. That Corral touchdown pass tied Eli Manning's 2001 school record for most in a single game, and it is the most thrown by a Rebel quarterback in regulation.
Late in the third quarter, John Rhys Plumlee entered the game and threw his first touchdown pass of the season, a strike over the middle to Braylon Sanders from 37 yards out, capping off a nine-play, 88-yard drive with 37 seconds left in the third quarter. Following another failed PAT, Ole Miss led 54-14 going into the final 15 minutes of play.
On the following Vanderbilt drive, Finley recorded his second interception of the season with 13:01 left to play. Kicker Luke Logan could not turn that into points, missing from 42 yards wide right with 9:50 left. The Commodores found the end zone with 4:28 left to play with a goal line touchdown, but it was far too late.
The Rebels will return to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on November 14 to face the South Carolina Gamecocks. Kickoff time and TV is still to be determined.