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Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly to have season-ending knee surgery

Chad Kelly’s season is over.

And so is one of the most productive careers ever for an Ole Miss quarterback.

Kelly tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee in the Rebels’ 37-27 win over Georgia Southern on Saturday. Ole Miss said in a statement Sunday night the senior will have surgery this week, ending his season.

Kelly, the sixth player Ole Miss has lost this season to an injury, left the game early in the third quarter after getting rolled up on. He was examined in the locker room before returning to the sideline, but he never went back in the game.

Redshirt freshman Jason Pellerin finished the game in Kelly’s absence and went 1 of 5 passing for 19 yards with an interception and ran for 29 yards on four carries. With head coach Hugh Freeze saying afterward he’ll only pull the redshirt off prized freshman Shea Patterson as a last resort with three games left in the regular season, Pellerin will likely be the guy the rest of the way starting with a trip to Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) on Saturday (6:30 p.m., SEC Network).

“You’ve got to take the time out even more now to learn the plays and everything,” Pellerin said. “Throughout the week, we run the plays. The ones and twos run the same exact plays. I feel confident in learning everything.”

Walk-on Drew Davis would be Pellerin’s backup if Freeze follows through on redshirting Patterson, though Freeze didn’t completely rule out the possibility of Patterson playing this season after Saturday’s game. Ole Miss (4-5, 1-4) needs two wins against the Aggies, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State to become bowl eligible.

“That would very difficult for me to do at this point I think, but everything is so new right now,” Freeze said. “Let’s see what (Sunday) brings, and we’ll go from there.”

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Pellerin has been used mainly as a powerful run option in the Rebels’ jumbo packages. He’s run 25 times for 96 yards and three touchdowns and had attempted just eight passes before Saturday.

Kelly leads the SEC with 2,758 passing yards and accounted for 24 touchdowns this season. He ended his career with 22 consecutive games with a touchdown pass, a school record, and threw for a school-record 465 yards in a loss to Auburn on Oct. 29.

He accumulated 7,632 yards of offense and accounted for 65 touchdowns in his two seasons with the Rebels after transferring from East Mississippi Community College. His 4,542 total yards last season are a single-season school record and the third-most in a season in SEC history.