Published on September 5th, 2015 | by Newt Rayburn0
Ole Miss Rebels Dismantle the UT Martin Skyhawks 76-3 in Oxford
Traffic was heavy, parking was confusing, and construction around Vaught-Hemingway stadium slowed the crowds, but the Ole Miss fans filled the stands with a sea of white clothes to watch the Rebels dismantle the University of Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks Saturday in Oxford. With the temperature at 88° and the skies partly cloudy, it was a beautiful day in Ole Miss and the team didn’t disappoint.
Coach Hugh Freeze went with newcomer Chad Kelly to start the game at Quarterback and Kelly was all over the Skyhawks early in the game, passing for 178 yards in the first half and helping Jaylen Walton rush for two touchdowns in the opening minutes. The Rebels scored four touchdowns in the First Quarter alone.
“Jaylen Walton has the big-play ability,” said Ole Miss Head Coach Hugh Freeze. “We talk about explosive plays in our offense. In this league if you aren’t able to create some explosive plays you will not be able to perform offensively. Jaylen definitely showed that ability in the touches he had.”
Coach Freeze was adamant before the game that Kelly wasn’t necessarily the starter for the season, and he played four different Quarterbacks early in the game, including Kelly, Ryan Buchannan, DeVante Kincade, and even former Lafayette High School star, Jeremy Liggins. Buchannan made his presence known in the first half with 58 yards passing and two touchdowns.
One of Buchannan’s passes was to 300lb Defensive Tackle Robert Nkemdiche, who was all over the Skyhawks on both offense and defense. Nkemdiche scored his first career touchdown lined up as a tight end, and even blocked a field goal attempt by UT Martin in the first half.
“Robert Nkemdiche is a tremendous athlete,” Freeze said. “Anytime we can use the kids within our team to be successful, we try to do that. Robert is definitely one of those guys that will help in any way that he can, and he is able to help us in a lot of areas.”
“His mom was here today, who I love dearly,” said Coach Freeze of Robert Nkemdiche. “She doesn’t get to go to many games because she’s a government official over in Nigeria. But that was kind of for her more than him probably.”
Ole Miss scored 27 points in the first quarter, the most the Rebels have scored that early in the modern era. They went on to score 41 in the first half, the most points the Rebels have put on the board since 1990.
Chad Kelly was impressive throughout the day with two passing and one rushing touchdown, and 211 passing yards, including a 56 yard bomb to Markell Pack and a 57 yard bomb to Cody Core.
“I thought Chad Kelly’s performance was really solid,” Freeze said. “Kelly did miss a touchdown throw, and probably could have thrown one a little bit better on the fade to Laquon Treadwell early in the game, but outside of that I think he had a solid day. We will get back to watching film, but I felt pretty good about him out there.”
“It felt great,” Chad Kelly said. “Being out there with my teammates we put in a long, long year of work. This season could be a great season so I’m excited to be able to go out there with great fans, great coaches and great teammates.”
Trae Elson had a 93 yard interception return for the Rebels and Eugene Brazley had a 70 run for a touchdown to continue the Rebels onslaught of scoring.
“You certainly hate the score was so lopsided,” Coach Freeze said of the final score. “I told (UT Martin Coach Jason Simpson) him I didn’t know what we could have done differently.”
With a final score of 76-3, it was the highest scoring game for the Rebels in modern history. The last time Ole Miss scored that many points was in 1935 against West Tennessee Teacher’s College (now The University of Memphis), but today’s blowout was a far cry from the 114 points the Rebels put up against Southwest Baptist (now Union University) in 1904.