By Parrish Alford
ATLANTA – Great wide receiver play can overcome a multitude of quarterback sins.
Bo Wallace threw three interceptions – but also four touchdown passes – as No. 18 Ole Miss outlasted Boise State 35-13 before a crowd of 32,823 in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game in the Georgia Dome.
After the Rebels worked past their turnovers and pre-snap penalties they scored 28 points in the fourth quarter, the last a 19-yard touchdown run by Mark Dodson with 2 minutes, 50 seconds left.
Wallace’s three picks all came in the first half, when he and Boise State quarterback Grant Hedrick combined for six, a Kickoff Game record.
The Rebels won in spite of playing most of the game without linebacker Serderius Bryant, last year’s leading tackler, who was ejected in the first quarter after helmet-to-helmet contact with Hedrick.
Wallace finished 25-for-36 for 387 yards and four touchdowns.
“He’s our guy,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. “Two of them were not even part of his progressions. I don’t know if he was just pressing too much. He wants to do so well and have such a great year, and we were always behind in the chains. He may have thought he had to press a little bit.
In the second half he was better than Hedrick, who tossed a pick to Ole Miss Huskie Tony Conner near midfield with 10:41 left.
Two plays later Wallace passed 31 yards to Quincy Adeboyejo for a score, and the Rebels were up 21-6.
Laquon Treadwell had seven catches for 105 yards, one of his biggest catches coming on third down from the Boise 47. The Broncos jumped offsides, and Wallace had a free play. He found Treadwell downfield on the left side for 29 yards.
Two plays later the two connected for a 14-yard score, and a 14-6 lead with 12:26 remaining.
Cody Core had two touchdowns, one a long run off a short pass on a 76-yard play, the back breaker with 7:45 left. Core caught a 30-yard touchdown pass for the Rebels’ first points and finished with four catches for 110 yards.
While the offense struggled the defense dominated the Broncos (0-1), twice holding them without a touchdown after they’d penetrated the 5 yard line.
There were four interceptions total in the end zone.
Pass pressure, a struggle in 2013, was much improved in the opener. The Rebels recorded only two sacks but constantly pressured Hedrick.
Johnson’s first-quarter pick was the result of a ball tipped by Robert Nkemdiche.
The Rebels struggled to run the ball though that proved late. Dodson led the way with 27 yards on four carries.
Ole Miss was penalized 78 yards, most of the pre-snap variety.
“Offense was in the first game and was playing a lot of new guys. They’re going to pick it up eventually,” Nkemdiche said. “They just have to get used to each other and get a feel for each other. They’ll be good.
“But we go off our defense.”