By Parrish Alford | NEMS Daily Journal
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Ole Miss did not allow its opponent to rush for more than 200 yards for the first time since Fresno State, but the ground game was a key component for Kentucky’s success Saturday.
CoShik Williams, a 5-foot-9, 178-pound junior, had gained 274 yards this season but found creases in the Rebels’ defense and totaled 111 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.
Williams rushed for 148 yards two weeks ago but had not gained more than 64 yards – which he totaled last week against Mississippi State – against an SEC opponent.
Ole Miss went into the game with the No. 116-ranked run defense among FBS teams with 226.75 yards per game allowed.
“We started making plays,” Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said. “CoShik is seeing things. Once you can run the ball, once you can do one of the things good, it helps the other phase. When you can run the ball, it helps you throw the ball because you get more people in the box.”
Needing a stop for one last shot to get in the end zone, Ole Miss had Kentucky pinned at its 15. Williams helped run the Wildcats out of the hole with a 13-yard burst up the middle, then another 4-yard run off the edge just before quarterback Maxwell Smith gained a bigger chunk of a yards with a 55-yard pass downfield.
Moncrief: Penalty was just physical play
Freshman wide receiver Donte Moncrief said the pass interference penalty against him that negated a touchdown was just the physical nature of the position – and the unfortunate timing that sometimes goes along with it.
“It was just hard-nosed football. He was playing tight, grabbing my jersey, so I gave him an elbow and pushed off a little bit. They called it. I didn’t fuss with the call,” Moncrief said. “It’s just was DB’s and receivers do. We battled for the ball. I made a good play on the ball, but they didn’t give it to me. I guess I got called for pushing last.”
The Rebels had already missed a touchdown opportunity when they reached the 14 and settled for a field goal on their first possession.
Moncrief finished with four catches for 68 yards, including a long gain of 25 yards in the fourth quarter when the Rebels were backed up to their 5 and trying to change field position. Moncrief was closely covered on the play.
Youth movement on defense
In a youth movement on defense, the Rebels inserted three freshmen who made their first starts: linebacker Serderius Bryant, safety Cody Prewitt and and cornerback Nick Brassell.
Also in the mix for a starting job during the week was freshman Keith Lewis at the spur position, though that start went again to junior Aaron Garbutt.
Bryant led Ole Miss with 10 tackles, his career-high.
Brassell had three tackles and a pass break-up and also was the defender when Smith passed 38 yards to La’Rod King for an early fourth-quarter touchdown.
Prewitt had nine tackles and a pressure.
Rose extends streak
Kicker Bryson Rose connected on field goal attempts of 31 and 37 yards to stretch his consecutive field goals made streak to 17, one shy of tying the SEC record. Rose is now 23 for 25 on field goals for his two-year career as starter.
Key Number – 4
The Rebels surpassed 80 yards in penalties for the fourth time this year. Their 93 yards were their second-highest on the year. They had 107 backward yards in beating Fresno State.
Kentucky moved 85 yards in six plays and scored on Smith’s 38-yard touchdown pass to take a 23-13 lead with 2:49 to play.
It’s homecoming at Ole Miss. The Rebels take on Louisiana Tech in a 6:30 p.m. start.
Ole Miss started six true freshmen in the game. … Randall Mackey had a touchdown pass for the third straight game. … Nick Brassell finished with three catches for 40 yards and a touchdown. … Ole Miss had four tackles for loss and finished minus-1 in turnover ratio with an interception thrown by Mackey.
… Ole Miss leads the series 27-14-1 and has won seven of the last 10 meetings. The Rebels’ last SEC win was against Kentucky in Oxford in October of last year.