NASHVILLE — The ninth-ranked Mississippi Rebels got a glimpse of just how good they might be this season in how they handled trailing at halftime for the first time this season.
Jaxson Dart threw for a career-high 448 yards and three touchdowns and Mississippi overcame a 10-point deficit in routing Vanderbilt 52-28 on Saturday for its first 6-0 start since 2014.
“There’s no limit to what we can achieve this year,” Dart said. “So I’m excited. Just keep getting better”
The Rebels (6-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) won their fourth straight in the series after trailing 20-10 in the second quarter. Quinshon Judkins ran for the first of his two TDs just before halftime, then the Rebels added three more in the third quarter as part of 35 straight points.
Coach Lane Kiffin noted his Rebels outscored Vanderbilt (3-3, 0-2) 42-8 to finish the game and joked that the head coach gave a great motivational speech at halftime.
“They did what they’re supposed to do in the beginning,” Kiffin said.
Jonathan Mingo caught nine passes for the Ole Miss record and national season-high 247 yards and two TDs, the last a short pass he caught at the line of scrimmage and took 71 yards to the end zone. The Rebels padded the lead with a 1-yard TD run by Matt Jones with 18 seconds left for the final margin.
Vanderbilt lost its 23rd consecutive SEC game and 10th straight for second-year coach Clark Lea. The Commodores scored 13 straight points to go up 20-10 before being shut out after halftime. De’Rickey Wright intercepted two passes for Vandy.
Lea went for the touchdown instead of a field goal on fourth-and-3 at the Ole Miss 5, and Ray Davis capped Vanderbilt’s longest drive this season with a 5-yard TD run up the middle with 1:32 left in the first half. The Commodores ran 15 plays and chewed 8:54 off the clock for a 20-10 lead.
Then Dart hit Mingo with a 48-yard pass down to the Vandy 3, and Quinshon Judkins scored two plays later from 2 yards out to pull Ole Miss within 20-17 at halftime.
Ole Miss simply dominated the third quarter, outgaining Vandy 217-31 on offense and outscoring them 21-0. The Rebels wound up outgaining Vanderbilt 591-403 despite holding the ball only 18 minutes, 43 seconds. That included just 4:15 of possession time in that third quarter.
“We have spurts where like that second half where it just looks like we’re unstoppable,” Dart said. “So we just got to be able to find that and find that rhythm, just find that consistency every game. And, you know, you know, there’s no limit to what we can achieve this year.”
Zach Evans capped the Rebels’ opening drive with a 24-yard TD run for Ole Miss’ first lead since the first quarter. Ole Miss added a TD within 90 seconds. Ladarius Tennison recovered AJ Swann’s lateral dropped by Davis, and Judkins ran in from 6 yards on the next play for a 31-20 lead.
Dart padded the lead with a perfect throw to Mingo for a 72-yard catch-and-run TD making it 38-20 with 6:30 left in the third.
“As we faltered on offense in the third quarter we needed some stops,” Lea said. “We’re not to the point as a program where we can play like that and still be able to win.”
Mississippi: Dart more than proved he can throw when an opponent tries to shut down the run game. The Rebels hurt themselves early with too many penalties. They had to settle for a field goal with three penalties on the opening drive of the game and had six for 60 yards by halftime. They finished with nine penalties for 85 yards.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores have been quite good at taking the ball away, and Wright’s interception extended their streak with at least one takeaway to 15 straight games. They kept an Ole Miss offense that had been fifth nationally rushing for 261.8 yards a game to 143 yards.
The Rebels remain undefeated, and that should be enough to keep them in the Top 10.
RECORD FOR MINGO
Yes, the Rebels knew exactly where Mingo was in comparison with the school receiving record set not long ago by Elijah Moore. Mingo tied the mark with 238, and Ole Miss worked on the final drive to get the ball to the senior receiver to get him the record all to himself.
Mingo got it on his 11th catch of the game, a 9-yarder he took to the Vandy 3.
“It’s kind of a blessing to break his record,” Mingo said of the receiver now in the NFL with the Jets. “Elijah is somebody I really looked up to. He was like a big brother to me, and it’s just a blessing.”
Ole Miss returns home to host Auburn.
Vanderbilt visits No. 2 Georgia.