Rebels defeat Penn State, earn first 11-win season

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AP

ATLANTA — – Jaxson Dart passed for 379 yards and three touchdowns, including two to tight end Caden Prieskorn, and ran for a score as No. 11 Mississippi bullied No. 10 Penn State’s proud defense 38-25 in the Peach Bowl on Saturday.

Ole Miss (11-2) gained 540 yards against Penn State (10-3), which led the nation with its average of 223 yards allowed. It was the most yards and points allowed by the Nittany Lions this season.

The win gave coach Lane Kiffin’s Rebels their first 11-win season.

Prieskorn had 10 receptions for 136 yards. He added a 2-point conversion catch to his touchdown receptions of 6 and 37 yards.

The dominant performance by Prieskorn, who has announced he will return in 2024 for his final year of eligibility, was a surprise. Prieskorn had 20 catches, including two for touchdowns, for 313 yards in the regular season.

Dart visited the injury tent following the Rebels’ first possession and had his left ankle taped on the sideline. He remained in the game and added a 2-yard scoring run for a 38-17 lead in the fourth quarter. Ole Miss chanted “S-E-C! S-E-C!” as it celebrated the Southeastern Conference’s win in the matchup against the Big Ten’s Nittany Lions.

The Rebels led 20-17 at halftime and pulled away when running back Quinshon Judkins provided balance to the offense in the second half. Judkins had 34 carries for 106 yards and added a 14-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, when Ole Miss extended the lead to 31-17.

Ole Miss defensive tackle Zxavian Harris blocked a 51-yard field goal attempt by Alex Felkins early in the fourth quarter.

Each team used tight ends in prominent roles. Prieskorn’s 6-yard touchdown catch gave Ole Miss a 10-3 lead late in the first quarter. Penn State pulled even on Drew Allar‘s 2-yard scoring pass to tight end Theo Johnson on a fourth-down play early in the second.

Prieskorn’s second scoring catch, a 37-yarder, gave Ole Miss a 20-10 lead. The Penn State defense bought in on Dart’s fake pitch to Judkins, leaving Prieskorn open on the right sideline.

Prieskorn’s big game included two one-handed sideline catches, one in each half.

Allar shared time at quarterback with Beau Pribula, who threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Nicholas Singleton late in the first half, trimming the Ole Miss lead to 20-17.

Allar threw an interception in the second quarter and lost a fumble when sacked in the fourth. He completed 19 of 39 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns.

THE TAKEAWAY

Ole Miss: The Rebels, who were beaten up front in their losses to Alabama and Georgia in the regular season, appeared to have similar problems with Penn State’s offensive line early in the game. The Ole Miss defense gave up 85 rushing yards in the first quarter before gaining strength. DT J.J. Pegues gained 8 yards on a fourth-and-1 run on a direct snap from the Ole Miss 36 late in the third quarter.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions gave up more than their average of 223 yards allowed by the midpoint of the second quarter. Ole Miss had 340 yards by halftime as Penn State struggled to defend Prieskorn and wide receiver Tre Harris, who had seven catches for 134 yards. Linebacker Abdul Carter left the game with an apparent right ankle injury and appeared limited when he returned in the second half.

UP NEXT

Ole Miss: The Rebels, bolstered by a top-ranked transfer portal class, open their 2024 season at home against Furman on Aug. 31.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions open their 2024 season at West Virginia on Aug. 31.

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