Jackets fall to No. 20 Ole Miss at home

Sophomore quarterback Jeff Sims rolls out during Tech’s Sept. 17 loss to Ole Miss. He finished with 161 passing yards as the offense struggled to move the ball, but he recorded a turnover-free game against a stout defense. // Photo by Julia Balot Student Publications

On Sept. 17, the Jackets faced No. 20 Ole Miss as the marquee event of Family Weekend. Although Tech was coming off a successful win against Western Carolina University (WCU) with a score of 35–17, their next opponent was a tough one to beat. 

While the Jackets had a 1-1 record, the Rebels came to Atlanta with a 2-0 record.

After a rough game, the Jackets were handed one of the toughest losses yet, a 42-0 loss against the Rebels.

Just as the game kicked off, the Rebels took the lead immediately, scoring twice in the first five minutes. The Rebels’ Zach Evans rushed for 3 yards to gain the touchdown, and kicker Jonathan Cruz made the extra point attempt, making the score 7-0. 

During the Jackets’ first possession, the punt by sophomore punter David Shanahan was blocked by Ole Miss and recovered by Rebel defensive end Cedric Johnson. Once again, possession was returned to the visitors. The Jackets struggled to stop the run, and Rebel running back Quinshon Judkins took the ball to the end zone from 7 yards out to widen the gap. With the score being 14-0 in just the first quarter, the Jackets needed to get their focus back. 

The second quarter started off with a Jacket possession. Tech mounted their best drive of the game, getting as far as the 4-yard line, but sophomore quarter-back Jeff Sims was sacked on fourth down. 

The Rebels continued to rack up the touchdowns by scoring another in the last five minutes of the second quarter. Once again, Evans rushed for the score, picking up 26 yards to extend the lead to 21-0. 

With the ball back in the Jackets’ possession, Sims was sacked once again for a loss of eight yards. Ole Miss continued to sweep their way through, with Rebel quarterback Jaxson Dart completing passes to wide receiver Jonathan Mingo for 33 yards. By halftime, the Rebels had 17 first downs while the Jackets had only seven. The Jackets came back from halftime hoping to see a better half. 

Although Tech still had two more quarters to catch up, the Rebels showed no signs of backing down. The Jackets started the second half with the ball, but Sims was sacked once again. 

Just a few minutes into the third quarter, Ole Miss was already in the red zone again. The Rebels made it to the 3-yard line, and Judkins carried the ball into the end zone again to widen the gap even more to 28-0.

The Jackets started to lose their focus although the ball was in their possession, and after suffering sacks and incompletions, the ball was passed back over to the Rebels. 

After another drive into the red zone, Ole Miss running back Ulysses Bentley IV rushed right for 15 yards to continue racking up the points. Just before the end of the third quarter, the Rebels made their way back to the red zone, and made the score 42-0 with two seconds left in the frame.

After a third quarter in which they gave up three touchdowns, the Jackets made sure to stop the scoring in the fourth. By the end of the game, Sims had been sacked seven times while the Rebels had only been sacked once. Overall, the Jackets were only able to manage 13 first downs while the Rebels piled up 31 first downs. The Jackets’ defense also allowed over 300 rushing yards. 

During the postgame conference, head coach Geoff Collins stated that most of the mistakes made were due to his lack of coaching. However, he stated that he hopes to figure out the best way to put out the players and find the right rotation. 

Senior linebacker Charlie Thomas, junior cornerback Myles Sims and junior kickoff returner Dontae Smith all came into the postgame conference with one statement: It was not what they expected and there are many things to learn from losses. The players focused on the idea that they all knew Ole Miss was going to be a tough opponent, but they could not let this game take their mental state down for the next game on the road against the University of Central Florida (UCF).