Monday, September 12, 2016
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — No. 19 Mississippi got exactly what it needed Saturday in a relatively boring, lopsided victory.
Playing just five days after an emotional loss to Florida State, quarterback Chad Kelly threw for 219 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Rebels to a 38-13 victory over Wofford of the Football Championship Subdivision level.
Ole Miss (1-1) didn't look tired despite the short turnaround, scoring on all four of its first-half drives to take a 24-3 halftime lead. The Rebels didn't need to punt until late in the third quarter when the game was well in hand.
"I thought our kids came out with an edge," Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. "Especially on offense."
Kelly completed short touchdown throws in the first half to Markell Pack, D.K. Metcalf and Quincy Adeboyejo, and Gary Wunderlich made a 40-yard field goal as the Rebels methodically moved the ball against the overmatched Terriers.
It was an efficient, mistake-free performance from Kelly, who threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in the Florida State loss. He completed 20 of 27 passes against Wofford.
"We were anxious to get that first win," Kelly said.
The only bad news for the Rebels was when Metcalf, a 6-foot-4 freshman who has quickly earned a role as one of the team's top receivers, broke his left foot in the second quarter. He also caught a touchdown pass in the Florida State game.
Freeze said he wasn't sure how much time Metcalf would miss, but it's possible the injury could end his season.
Ole Miss has already struggled with injuries this year. Starting cornerback Kendarius Webster and running back Eric Swinney both tore knee ligaments in the Florida State game and are done for the season.
Ole Miss announced a crowd of 64,232, which is a stadium record. The Rebels spent about $60 million on offseason renovations to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, which included roughly 5,000 new seats after bowling in the north side of the stadium.
Wofford (1-1) moved the ball effectively at times, but couldn't find the end zone until the fourth quarter, when quarterback Brad Butler ran for a 17-yard touchdown.
Freeze pulled a minor surprise on Saturday when he used redshirt freshman Jason Pellerin as the backup quarterback instead of true freshman Shea Patterson. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Pellerin completed 2 of 3 passes for 23 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also ran for a touchdown.
Patterson was widely regarded as one of the nation's top quarterback recruits last year, but Freeze left open the possibility that Patterson might redshirt this fall in order to save him for future seasons when Kelly, a senior, is no longer with the program.
"He's certainly talented enough to play," Freeze said. "But we discussed it this week, and playing him in mop-up duty is probably not the smartest thing at this juncture."
Wofford coach Mike Ayres, who is in his 29th season leading the program, had a unique way of describing his team's growth so far this season: "We're close. We're like that fat guy that's got one leg over the fence and he's close. He's working to get that second leg over. It's tough, but it's not quite there. That's where we are. We didn't have a great day."
Wofford: The Terriers' triple-option offense was decent, but finding the end zone was difficult against an SEC defense. Wofford has a 1-19 record against Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
Ole Miss: The Rebels got what they needed — an easy win. Now they can turn their attention to a marquee SEC game against Alabama in Oxford next weekend.
Wofford: The Terriers return home to face Johnson C. Smith.
Ole Miss: The Rebels host Alabama after beating the Tide in each of the past two seasons.