OXFORD, Miss. (Ole Miss Athletics) — The Golden Egg will be sitting in the Manning Athletics Performance Center for the next 365 days.
The Rebels (4-4) started fast and did just enough defensively in a 31-24 victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs (2-6) in the 117th edition of the rivalry at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday.
“It’s good to get the trophy back. Hopefully we can keep it here for a long time,” Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin said.
Matt Corral completed 24 of 36 passes for 385 yards and two touchdown passes. He is now sixth all-time in Ole Miss history for passing touchdowns, surpassing Archie Manning, Kent Austin and Mark Young.
Elijah Moore became the school’s all-time record holder for receptions in a season with 86, passing A.J. Brown. Moore added 139 yards through the air. Braylon Sanders and Dontario Drummond combined for four catches and 171 yards with a score each.
On the ground, Jerrion Ealy led the Rebels with 93 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown which sealed the game late. Henry Parrish, Snoop Conner and Matt Corral combined for 68 yards on 25 attempts.
Defensively, Ole Miss was led by Lakia Henry with 10 total tackles. Otis Reese totaled eight tackles and a pass breakup in his first action as an Ole Miss Rebel. Jacquez Jones and MoMo Sanogo had six tackles a piece. The Rebel defense forced MSU to go 3-of-14 on third down, including an 0-for-4 mark in the game’s final 15 minutes.
Despite having several opportunities to get on the scoreboard throughout the contest, a fast start proved pivotal.
Three plays into the game, the Bulldogs attempted to make Ole Miss jump offsides. The Rebels refused to jump, forcing a punt and setting up shop at their 28-yard line. After a holding call and backwards pass, Matt Corral connected with Elijah Moore for a 53-yard deep ball to get inside MSU’s red zone. Ole Miss elected to go for the score inside the Bulldogs’ 10-yard line, but Braylon Sanders couldn’t come up with an end zone catch, turning the ball over on downs.
Following another three-and-out, the Rebels used just five plays to draw first blood. Matt Corral connected with four different receivers and capped off a 54-yard drive with a 48-yard touchdown strike to Dontario Drummond to give Ole Miss a 7-0 lead with 6:03 left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs looked as if they were going to tie the game on the ensuing drive. Will Rogers connected with Austin Williams right before the goal line, but Tylan Knight was able to jar the ball loose, and Deane Leonard took the football to the MSU 16-yard line, the fourth-longest fumble return in Ole Miss history.
The Rebels capitalized on the opportunity. On 4th-and-goal from the one-yard line, Snoop Conner waltzed into the end zone untouched to extend the Ole Miss lead to 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Mississippi State answered quickly. On a four play drive, Will Rogers found Jaden Walley twice for first downs and later found Malik Heath on a seven-yard slant for a touchdown. The Rebel lead was cut to 14-7 with 13:37 left in the second half.
After forcing a three-and-out, Ole Miss faced 3rd-and-18 from their own 19-yard line. Corral threw a rocket to Braylon Sanders while well-covered, but Sanders came up with the football and an 81-yard touchdown for the third-longest Ole Miss pass play in Egg Bowl history and a 21-7 lead.
The Rebels had another opportunity to extend their lead on their next offensive drive, but a 15-play, 72-yard drive came up empty after a failed fourth down conversion on MSU’s seven-yard line. The Bulldogs made them pay, driving 93 yards in 13 plays with an 11-yard touchdown from Will Rogers to Malik Heath with six seconds left in the first half to slash the Ole Miss lead to 21-14 at the break.
At the half, the Rebels totaled 341 yards of total offense, 255 coming through the air.
The Rebels came out in the third quarter again reaching the Bulldog red zone, but came up empty handed once more by turning the ball over on downs. After four consecutive punts from both teams, Ole Miss finally found the scoreboard on a 26-yard Luke Logan field goal to push the Rebel lead to 24-14 with 13:40 left in the third.
Mississippi State responded with a 10-play, 75 yard drive ending with a seven yard touchdown pass from Will Rogers to Austin Williams. Ole Miss’ lead was cut once again 24-21 with 7:51 left in the game.
The Rebels responded by converting twice on third down and, again, reaching the Bulldog red zone. This time, Jerrion Ealy made sure they’d break through. He carried numerous MSU defenders to the end zone for a seven-yard score on the ground, giving Ole Miss another 10 point lead at 31-21 with 4:48 left to play.
Thanks to a fourth down conversion around midfield, the Bulldogs made their way inside the Ole Miss 10-yard line, but would have to settle for a 25-yard field goal from Jace Christmann with 2:08 left to play. The Rebels recovered the ensuing onside kick and milked the clock, leaving Mississippi State with 23 seconds left to tie the game. The Bulldogs were unsuccessful at doing so, wrapping up Lane Kiffin’s first Egg Bowl victory.
The Rebels will not be in action next week on December 5. Dates and times of matchups with LSU and Texas A&M will be announced at a later date.