OXFORD, Miss. (WIS) - Points were a-plenty on Saturday night in Oxford.
With defenses showing little resistance, South Carolina and Ole Miss put up numbers that even video game players would drool over.
Despite a record-breaking performance by Kevin Harris, it was Matt Corral’s record-setting performance with 513 yards and four passing touchdowns that helped Ole Miss come away with a 59-42 win over South Carolina.
“I’m disappointed obviously that we lost,” said Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp. “I thought our guys played extremely hard in the game. It’s a 24-21 game at halftime. Back and forth. We had a hard time getting them. We had the one stop on the goal line on the fumble, but our guys competed hard in the game.”
The first half saw both teams go score for score as the defenses struggled to stop the opposing offenses.
Carolina opened the scoring in the first quarter with a lengthy drive that heavily featured Kevin Harris in the run game. However, it was Shi Smith who would cap the series with a one-handed catch in the end zone putting the Gamecocks up 7-0.
Ole Miss responded with a long drive of their own. The Rebels put together a 16-play drive that lasted more than four minutes. Matt Corral connected with Dontario Drummond on an 11-yard pass tying it 7-7 with 4:45 left in the quarter.
Ole Miss gave their offense an extra possession in the first quarter. Collin Hill was picked off on a deep pass by AJ Finley at the Rebels' 37-yard line. The Rebels capitalized on the takeaway with another scoring drive. Mississippi marched 63 yards on eight plays with Corral rushing in for the score from three yards out pushing his team ahead 14-7.
The Gamecocks wasted little time tying things up. Going back to their running game, Kevin Harris found an opening and took the carry 46 yards making it a 14-14 game with 14:18 left in the half.
Ole Miss remained poised and regained the lead on their next drive. The Rebels put together another lengthy drive. This time, Mississippi used 11 plays to score. Corral threw his second touchdown of the day to Jerrion Ealy on a 15-yard pass and Ole Miss went ahead 21-14.
Carolina answered the bell yet again. The Gamecocks used nearly six minutes in the period with Kevin Harris recording his second touchdown run on a 1-yard carry to tie it up 21-21.
Carolina nearly gained momentum. With Ole Miss knocking on the door yet again, Corral was sacked and stripped by JJ Enagbare. As the ball rolled toward the sideline, John Dixon was able to keep both feet in and maintain control of the ball to give Carolina an extra possession. However, the Gamecocks were not able to capitalize on the takeaway.
Ole Miss would make the most of their final possession of the half. With the ball at the Carolina 32-yard line, Corral connected with Snoop Conner for 27 yards and Conner got out of bounds with one second left. That was enough time for Luke Logan to put Ole Miss ahead 24-21 at the break.
The Rebels put up 329 yards in the first half.
Ole Miss expanded their lead in the third quarter. In their first series of the second half, Ole Miss marched 75 yards with Snoop Conner scoring his first touchdown of the game on a 2-yard run making it 31-21 with 10:34 left in the period.
Kevin Harris came calling again in the third quarter for his third touchdown of the night. “The Bus” punched it in from 1 yard out to cut the Ole Miss lead to 31-28. Harris followed that with his school-record fourth rushing touchdown of the contest. This time, he motored for 44 yards to put Carolina ahead 35-31.
Ole Miss fought back. A quick scoring drive saw Ealy score on a 12-yard touchdown run putting Mississippi back on top 38-35.
However, the Rebels just didn’t have an answer for Harris, who scored his fifth touchdown of the game with 12:50 left to play on a 12-yard run. That gave Carolina a 42-38 lead with 12:50 left to play.
“Unbelievable,” Gamecocks quarterback Collin Hill said of Harris' performance. “I don’t know exactly what he went for, but that was the game plan. Everybody knew that was the game plan. He was going to get a lot of touches... The dude’s a stud. Also, the offensive line did a great job. Adam did a great job at fullback. Receivers blocked. Tight ends blocked. We were executing as an offense. Coach came up with a great plan, but there were some plays that we created one-on-ones for Kevin and he took advantage of them. That’s the kind of player he is. He had an unbelievable performance and he played his tail off.”
Harris finished the night with 243 yards on 25 carries and five touchdowns.
Ole Miss started their next drive deep in their own territory after a muffed kickoff return, but that was no problem for the Rebels. Corral threw his third touchdown pass of the night for a 91-yard pass to Elijah Moore. That gave Mississippi a 45-42 lead.
“We knew what they were going to be in before we even called the play,” Corral said, "and knowing that really helps just because we know what they’re going to do and we had the plays for what they were going to do. It just worked out perfectly and, when they didn’t, we had to adjust. We struggled a little bit in the beginning when they did the drop eight and they stopped us on a three-and-out, but the offensive line adjusted and they got it done.
Moore had 13 catches for 225 yards and two touchdowns. Corral finished the contest 28-of-32 passing for a school-best 513 yards and four touchdowns.
Mississippi added to their lead with Ealy scoring his third touchdown of the night on a 5-yard run with 6:09 to play and the Rebels took a 52-42 lead.
“They’re a really good offensive football team,” Muschamp said. “They’ve done this to a lot of people. It is concerning. There’s no doubt about that. We’ve got to go back and look at it. We came in wanting to mix some things up and play some zone and he was very accurate... and in man-to-man, we got beat some in man coverage. So, it’s tough when you can’t win man and then you play zone coverage and he’s very accurate with the football. We’ve got to tighten up some zones as far as those things are concerned.”
Ole Miss tacked on one more score for good measure. The Rebels had 708 yards of total offense.
Carolina hosts Missouri on November 21.