By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Bo Wallace showed his first game wasn’t a fluke, and Ole Miss is 2-0 for just the second time in 10 years.
Wallace passed for three touchdowns, ran for another and had no turnovers as Ole Miss amassed 538 yards and defeated Texas-El Paso 28-10 before a crowd of 53,133 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday night.
In fact, the Rebels’ only turnover came when running back Randall Mackey fumbled late in the third quarter. It was a biggie, giving UTEP the ball at the Ole Miss 8, but the Rebels pushed the Miners back 12 yards, and UTEP settled for a field goal and a 21-10 deficit with 2 minutes, 58 seconds left in the third quarter.
It was one of three UTEP trips into the red zone which netted only three total points.
The Rebels’ defensive line was better against the run this week, and UTEP managed just 37 yards on the ground. The Miners played without injured running back Nathan Jeffery, the Conference USA player of the week, who rushed for 177 yards against Oklahoma last week.
UTEP found its passing game, the Rebels had timely big plays, like Cody Prewitt’s end zone interception to thwart a Miners’ scoring chance in the second quarter.
The win sets up unbeaten Ole Miss with unbeaten and No. 17-ranked Texas here this Saturday.
“It’s huge for us and huge for our fan base. They’re believing in us a little bit, and hopefully they’ll come out Saturday and have the Vaught rocking,” Wallace said.
Wallace passed for two touchdowns and ran for a third in the first half leading to a 21-0 edge at the break. He finished 15 for 22 passing for 174 yards.
UTEP, though, held the Rebels out of the end zone in the third quarter and was threatening to make a game of things when Wallace led an eight-play, 69-yard drive, capped with a 3-yard touchdown pass to H.R. Greer. It was a rare offensive set for Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze with a fullback, and Greer slipped out and caught the scoring pass for a 28-10 lead.
UTEP (0-2) made it a 21-7 game with a five-play, 61-yard drive on its first third-quarter possession. The points came when Nick Lamaison passed 26 yards to Jordan Leslie, who beat freshman Anthony Standifer.
The Rebels (2-0) kept the Miners from developing consistency on offense, and Freeze was glad to see the sense of urgency from his players.
“When we as an offense do something that puts our defense in a bad way then we have to answer. I thought we did that a couple of times tonight,” he said.
Wallace had plenty of help. Running back Jeff Scott, held out last week, rushed for 113 yards on 13 carries. Mackey had 66 yards on 11 attempts.
“This is part of the learning, of getting our program out of the wilderness. We’re not there. We’re still in the middle of it, and we have a long way to go,” Freeze said. “But the consistent message we’ve said is that we’ll give 60 minutes of great effort. That’s what people want, and we’re getting that right now.”
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