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Texas A&M 31, Ole Miss 24: A Tale of Two Halves

Both offenses came out hot, but the defenses tightened as the game wore on

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Mississippi Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M got a 31-24 win at Ole Miss in a game of two halves. The Aggies were led by Nick Starkel’s 272 yards but it was their defense that proved to be the difference in the game.

Both teams got off to hot starts with touchdowns on the first four series of the game. The scoring was opened by Ole Miss with a seven play, 70 yard drive punctuated by A.J. Brown hauling in a 27 yard pass and doing his best to replicate his touchdown grab from last week.

The quick start came to a resounding thud with the next combined eight series all ending with either punts or turnovers (and five of those eight series being three and outs). After trading touchdowns, Ole Miss tacked on a field goal to take a three point lead to the locker room at halftime.

The first half had a combined 625 offensive yards with each team over 300 yards and Ole Miss rushing for 187 yards.

As explosive as the offenses were in the first half, the offenses were just as putrid in the second half. Ole Miss only managed 66 yards in the second half as A&M’s defense made adjustments that caused the Rebels problems across the offensive front. The struggles spilled over to penalties as Ole Miss had 11 second half penalties for 87 yards (13 for 102 total).

Those penalties and a third quarter pick six by Derrick Tucker were the difference in the game. The pick came after Jordan Ta’amu got pressured and Tucker jumped the receiver’s route for an easy stroll into the end zone.

For their part, the Ole Miss defense played well in the second half as well. They limited the Aggies to 91 yards in the second half but did not benefit from the same sloppiness from which A&M benefited.

Aside from the loss, the game resulted in Ole Miss running back D’Vaughn Pennamon being carted off with air cast after taking a helmet to the knee. The sophomore running back had an increased workload in recent weeks and is a back being counted on to replace the departing Jordan Wilkins. Wilkins continued his hot second half of the season with 147 rushing yards including a 64 yard touchdown for his fourth 100 yard game in the last six outings.

Texas A&M wraps up their regular season next Saturday with LSU as they look to solidify their place in one of the SEC’s “group of six” bowl games. The Rebels, who are anticipating their notice of the NCAA’s sanctions to come any day, travel to Starkville to face Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl Thanksgiving evening.