NOTEBOOK: Depleted Rebel defense stifles Fournette in win

Published 10:04 am Sunday, November 22, 2015

When playing LSU, the game plan for opposing defenses is as simple as it can be — stop No. 7.

Ole Miss knew that and succeeded in every way.

Leonard Fournette has been the best running back in the Southeastern Conference all season if not the nation. That is not a secret. If teams want a fighter’s chance to beat LSU, they must do so by slowing down Fournette.

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Heading into Saturday, the sophomore was averaging an SEC-best 163.8 yards per game, 18 yards better than Alabama’s Derrick Henry (145.8) and with one less game under his belt. Fournette also had the conference’s second-best touchdown output with 17 behind Henry’s 19 scores.

Ole Miss’ defense held Fournette to 108 rushing yards and no touchdowns in the 22nd-ranked Rebels’ 38-17 win over No. 15 LSU. It was the third-worst production by the New Orleans native behind 91 yards against Arkansas last week and 31 yards against Alabama on Nov. 7.

“Just gang tackle, get a lot of heads to the ball,” safety Mike Hilton said of the strategy to stop Fournette. “We saw how Arkansas and Alabama played him, so we kind of used what they did and we slowed him down today.”

Record-breaking night
The Ole Miss offense kept chugging along, and the records kept falling.

Quarterback Chad Kelly broke the school record for total offensive yards in a season with 3,857, eclipsing Bo Wallace’s 3,701 in 2013. Kelly also broke Eli Manning’s single-season record of 32 touchdowns responsible for in 2001 by recording his 34th touchdown Saturday against LSU.

With five more touchdowns Saturday, Ole Miss set a school record for touchdowns in a season with 57, breaking the mark of 55 set back in 2001.

Engram breaks loose
With all the multiple weapons for Ole Miss on offense, tight end Evan Engram has become forgotten or a non-factor when it comes to scoring or even catching balls.

He re-introduced himself to everyone Saturday night.

The junior scored from 39 yards out when a screen pass worked to perfection in front of his eyes, giving him just his second touchdown on the season.

“I’ve been waiting for (that play),” Engram said with a smile. “We put that in I want to say before the (Texas) A&M game. It’s a situational thing. You know how football is, you get different calls and different looks. We were up, had nothing really to lose, long third down. It was a perfect call.”

Extra points
With the win over LSU, it marks the first time in program history Ole Miss has defeated the Tigers, Alabama and Auburn in the same season … Ole Miss secured a winning SEC record in back-to-back years for the first time since 1989-90. … The attendance at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium was 60,705, a sellout.