By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – What Ole Miss lacked in style points in the first half it made up for in the second, and the Rebels blew away Idaho in a 59-14 homecoming win on Saturday night.
Ole Miss rushed for 292 yards, and Bo Wallace passed for 186 yards and two scores, and the Rebels won their second straight after dropping three in a row. Idaho arrived in Oxford having been outscored 43-16 on average.
It’s the most points for Ole Miss under Hugh Freeze and the most since scoring 59 against Louisiana-Monroe in 2008.
Six of the Rebels’ eight touchdowns came on plays of 30 yards or more, two of them on Wallace passes to Ja-Mes Logan.
Logan got behind the Idaho secondary for a 37-yard touchdown in the first quarter, a 65-yarder in the third.
A Vaught-Hemingway Stadium crowd of 57,870 had more than a few empty seats at the beginning and was thinner after halftime when the Rebels led 24-7.
Ole Miss (5-3) also scored on a 64-yard run by I’Tavius Mathers, a 40-yard run by Jaylen Walton and a 12-yard fumble return by Dehendret Collins.
“I felt like the first half of a bit sloppy, a bit undisciplined. I wasn’t real happy at halftime,” Freeze said. “I challenged our kids, our staff, anyone that would listen, and I thought we played a pretty solid second half.”
Mathers finished with 138 yards on 14 carries, Walton 86 on 11.
The Vandals (1-7) were playing their No. 3 quarterback but still managed to hit some big plays in the passing game, one set up Davis’ own 2-yard touchdown run, the other going for a 62-yard score to wide receiver Dezmon Epps.
The Rebels still played without key defensive starters including cornerback Mike Hilton and linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche.
“It’s been tough putting game plans together, but on the other side of that some of those (young) guys are getting a lot of experience,” defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said. “There’s good and bad to it.”
Wallace’s 37-yarder to Logan and Walton’s 40-yard touchdown run were the big plays in a 17-point first quarter.
The Rebels added a 50-yard field goal from Andrew Ritter but were also sloppy at times early on. Dropped passes wiped out possible big gains, and the Rebels fumbled twice in the first half though the Vandals failed to find either one.
Those mistakes combined with some good play-calling and execution from Idaho had the Vandals on the edge of cutting their deficit to three points.
A 2-yard keeper by Davis came on the heels of a 42-yard catch-and-run on crossing pattern.
The Rebels couldn’t move the chains on their next possession, and short punt had the Vandals at the Ole Miss 30. They reached the 8 with a first down, but on fourth-and-goal from the 10 a field goal attempt bounced off the right upright.
Mathers and Walton were the central focus of a 13-play, 80-yard response for Ole Miss. Walton scored on a 1-yard run, fumbling into the end zone but breaking the plane first.
That reestablished some order for the Rebels, extending their lead to 17.
“Things went a lot better than I would have told you at halftime. We were sluggish and didn’t pay a lot of attention to detail,” Wallace said. “We put up a lot of points, but I don’t think that’s how we played.”