No. 17 Ole Miss pulls away from Georgia Tech

Rebels score 38 points in the second half
Mississippi wide receiver Dayton Wade (19) catches a pass past Georgia Tech defensive back Ahmari Harvey (18) during the second half an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Mississippi wide receiver Dayton Wade (19) catches a pass past Georgia Tech defensive back Ahmari Harvey (18) during the second half an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)

OXFORD, Miss. — Georgia Tech stubbed its toe one too many times and lost 48-23 to No. 17 Ole Miss on Saturday night at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

The Yellow Jackets (1-2) had a field-goal attempt blocked, turned the ball over on downs in the red zone and failed on a fake punt, potentially leaving points on the board in a game where points were greatly needed against the Rebels’ high-powered offense.

Tech still had 477 yards of offense, went 11-of-20 on third-down plays and got another solid game from quarterback Haynes King, who threw for 310 yards and rushed for 42 more. Ole Miss, however, scored on six of seven possessions in the second half to pull away.

King finished 28-for-41 passing and had two touchdown passes and one touchdown run in the loss.

“We got an identity, and you’ve got to keep moving forward,” King said. “We’re explosive, we’re gonna keep calling our stuff, we’re gonna hit some tempo, we’re gonna change it up. Gotta run the football, gotta pass the football and move on to the next play. You gotta keep rockin’ and rollin’; you can’t flinch. Just don’t flinch, keep moving and react to what’s going on.”

The Jackets (1-2) return to ACC play at 6:30 p.m. Saturday when they play at Wake Forest (3-0).

“Obviously it’s a disappointing game. Disappointing any time you don’t come out with the outcome that you want, that you worked for,” Tech coach Brent Key said. “I thought we had a good plan. We had the opportunity to make some plays. When I say make plays, it’s everyone. Whether it’s make a block, make a tackle, make a catch, make a call, everyone’s involved when it comes to that.

“Everyone is involved when you win games, everyone is involved when you lose games. It’s plain and simple the way it is. We got to be able to sustain and continue to play four quarters regardless of what the scoreboard says.”

Down 24-10 to start the fourth quarter, Tech pushed the ball to the Ole Miss 15 and was faced with a fourth-down call with less than 11 minutes to play. The Jackets went for it, and the gamble paid off as King found a wide-open Eric Singleton in the right corner of the end zone for an easy touchdown that made the score 24-17.

Ole Miss answered with a 44-yard field goal by Caden Davis to go up by 10 with 7:45 on the clock.

Tech went three-and-out on its next possession and punted the ball, virtually sealing its fate. Jaxson Dart left no doubt pertaining to that matter by competing a 68-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Watkins.

Quinshon Judkins added a 1-yard plunge with 3:40 left to put the final nail in the coffin. King ended his night by throwing a 14-yard scoring strike to Avery Boyd, then Matt Jones scored the final touchdown for Ole Miss on a 36-yard run with 49 seconds left.

Dart went 10-for-18 passing for 251 yards and a TD. He also ran 14 times for 136 yards and two scores as the Rebels moved to 3-0.

Davis’ 47-yard field goal started the scoring less than three minutes into the game and put Ole Miss up 3-0.

Tech looked like it would answer on its ensuing offensive series, but opportunity quickly turned into disaster. Aidan Birr’s 43-yard field-goal attempt was blocked and pinballed all the way back to Tech’s own 34.

Ole Miss took advantage and scored on the eighth play of its drive, a 1-yard run from Dart, making the score 10-0.

The Jackets went into the second quarter down by that same score but on the move on offense. They were at the 2-yard line when, on fourth down, King’s throw into the end zone for Dominick Blaylock was broken up by Daijahn Anthony to keep Tech off the scoreboard.

Tech dodged a major blow three minutes later when Ole Miss went for it fourth down from the Tech 5. Receiver Michael Trigg dropped a sure touchdown pass in the back of the end zone, keeping the score 10-0.

That gave the Jackets a bit of life and coordinator Buster Faulkner’s offense went to work. Tech went on a 17-play drive and drained 8:26 off the clock. This time Birr’s kick, from 22 yards out, cut Tech’s deficit to seven, at 10-3.

The Jackets went into the break down by that same score after Ole Miss tried a 54-yard field goal to end the half, an attempt that was well short. In the first half, Tech had 206 yards of offense, went 6-of-9 on third downs and held the Rebels to 49 passing yards.

Tech couldn’t keep its momentum going in the second half and quickly fell behind 17-3 early in the third quarter. Ulysses Bentley’s 21-yard touchdown run put the Rebels ahead 6:15 into the period and capped a 71-yard drive.

Two minutes later Tech tried to fake a punt from its own 28 – it went terribly awry. Boyd tried to zip a pass to fellow tight end Brett Seither, and his throw fell incomplete. Dart scored four plays later from 6 yards out, giving the Rebels a commanding 24-3 lead.

“Had an aggressive game plan, wanted to be aggressive,” Key said of the fake punt. “We knew that was a time where we had the call that we wanted. At that point (punter David Shanahan) was not able to continue to go (because of injury), so it was a combination of a planned thing that we felt like was there. I still believe it was there. We’ll watch the tape and see.”

The Jackets, to their credit, fought back. They put together a 78-yard drive, highlighted by a 51-yard pass from King to Singleton, and polished off by King’s 1-yard option keeper. That got Tech within 24-10 going into the final 15 minutes.

Ole Miss completed a two-year sweep of the Jackets and outscored Tech 90-23 in two games. The loss also was Tech’s eighth consecutive against an SEC opponent.