COLUMBIA, Mo. — When the week began it was uncertain which Mississippi quarterback Missouri would face, but the Rebels stuck with freshman John Rhys Plumlee for the third consecutive game Saturday.
That came after they started freshman Matt Corral in the first three games of the year. Corral was benched after sustaining a minor rib injury in the Rebels’ loss to California but dressed out for Ole Miss’ last game.
By the fourth quarter Saturday, Ole Miss was switching between the two QBs every other play, a strategy that couldn’t help the Rebels outscore the Tigers in a 38-27 Mizzou victory.
Plumlee came into the game with 327 yards rushing, the second-most of any Rebels player. Against Mizzou, Plumlee hit the ground running. After a three-and-out on the first Ole Miss possession, a turnover on the punt brought Plumlee and the offense right back out. Plumlee rushed for 22 yards on the drive, including a 10-yard run for a third-down conversion, before throwing a 21-yard touchdown pass to running back Scottie Phillips to put the Rebels on the board first.
Missouri’s defense kept pressure on Plumlee any time the Rebels tried to pass. He completed six of 14 for 63 yards in the first half.
Ole Miss changed course late in the second quarter, putting Corral in at quarterback. He completed his first pass for 12 yards and went on to complete four of six on his one first-half drive. In that drive, he nearly surpassed Plumlee’s total passing yards with 56 yards through the air.
Corral completed a 23-yard pass to Elijah Moore, and two plays later hit Moore again for 15 yards to put the Rebels in the red zone. Ole Miss pushed on to the 1 but failed to convert on fourth down at the goal line as the Missouri defense got a big stop just before the half.
Plumlee and Corral rotated at quarterback in the second half. Plumlee re-entered the game in the third quarter, leading a seven-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Moore. Corral took over to start the fourth quarter, getting the Rebels to the Mizzou 12 before being subbed out for Plumlee, who finished the drive with a 9-yard touchdown run to make it 35-21 early in the fourth quarter.
They combined to throw for 236 yards. Corral completed 10 of 16 passes for 133 yards, and Plumlee was eight for 17 for 103 yards and two touchdowns.
BIG NIGHT FOR ROUNTREE
Running back Larry Rountree led the Tigers on the ground, rushing for 126 yards on 21 carries. He started the second half with a 41-yard touchdown run to put Missouri up 18-7, then scored late in the third quarter on a 1-yard run.
Tyler Badie also had a productive night with 24 yards rushing and a TD on five carries. More impressive, though, were his 69 yards receiving on three catches, including a wide-open 49-yard grab in the third quarter.
His one score came on a tricky play in the first quarter. Left tackle Yasir Durant lined up as a slot receiver and tight end Logan Christopherson took his place on the line, Badie grabbed a screen pass from quarterback Kelly Bryant for a 17-yard touchdown.
Daniel Parker Jr. started at tight end over Albert Okwuegbunam but caught only one pass for 3 yards, while Okwuegbunam had four grabs for 60 yards. Kam Scott and Jalen Knox had quiet nights. Scott caught two passes for 22 yards, Knox one for 7.
SPECIAL TEAMS HICCUPS
With Richaud Floyd sidelined because of a hamstring injury, wide receiver Johnathon Johnson started at punt returner. He muffed his first punt one minute into the game, giving Ole Miss the ball for a drive that ended with the Rebels’ first touchdown.
On the next punt, redshirt freshman wide receiver Cade Musser came in as the Tigers’ returner. He held onto the ball and returned it 9 yards to the 37 and stayed in as Missouri’s punt returner for the rest of the first half.
Johnson redeemed himself on offense. Bryant connected with him eight times for 110 yards, including a 29-yard reception.
“He’s a gritty player, and he’s made a lot of plays for Mizzou over the years,” Tigers coach Barry Odom said, “and tonight was one of his biggest nights.”
With senior middle linebacker Cale Garrett sidelined after needing surgery for a torn pectoral tendon, sophomore Cameron Wilkins made his first career start. Wilkins and Jamal Brooks rotated in the first half, and Wilkins finished the half with four solo tackles and a quarterback hurry.
Wilkins also shared a tackle with Tre Williams on the Tigers’ goal-line stand at the end of the first half.
“We knew both of them were going to play,” Odom said. “We’re not going to ask one guy to go fill in and play every snap. So, along with those two, Devin Nicholson and Chad Bailey, we’ll do it by committee here moving forward.”Tucker McCann had one missed extra point coming into this game, against Southeast Missouri. About three minutes into the second half against Ole Miss, McCann had already missed two, both having hit the uprights. He finished the game two for four on PATs and four for four on field goals.