Ole Miss football obliterates Georgia Tech 42-0 in Atlanta

Nick Suss
Mississippi Clarion Ledger

ATLANTA − Another week, another dominant non-conference win for Ole Miss football.

The No. 17 Rebels decimated Georgia Tech (1-2) with a 42-0 win on Saturday. Ole Miss (3-0) rushed for 316 yards and six touchdowns on the shoulders of dynamic running backs Zach Evans, Quinshon Judkins and Ulysses Bentley IV. Evans ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns, Judkins carried for 98 yards and two touchdowns and Bentley rushed for 27 yards and two scores.

Not to be outdone, Ole Miss' defense secured the Rebels' first shutout since 2014 by constricting everything the Yellow Jackets offense tried to do. The Rebels forced nine punts and four three-and-outs.The only time Georgia Tech came close to scoring, Ole Miss forced a turnover on downs with a goal-to-go fourth-down sack.

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This was the Rebels' first shutout against a Power 5 opponent since the 2008 Egg Bowl. The Rebels haven't allowed a touchdown in back-to-back games and scored more than 40 points in back-to-back games for the first time since Week 2 and Week 3 of last season.

Trust the run game

Through two games, Georgia Tech was allowing 119 rushing yards per game. Evans ran for 115 yards in the first half alone.

Evans and Judkins are quickly asserting themselves as arguably the nation's best one-two backfield punch. That was evident in the first two games when the coaches made a concerted effort to keep the gameplan balanced, but it was doubly obvious when the offense became a full-on run-first affair.

The Yellow Jackets didn't allow any 20-yard runs in their first two games. Evans, Judkins and Dart all had one before the end of the first quarter. Even when there are questions about the passing attack, this running game is explosive and varied enough to make up for the weaknesses.

Trust in the QB develops late

The way the Rebels' gameplan revolved around running downhill made it hard to evaluate quarterback Jaxson Dart, who had his number called on third-and-long draw plays as often as on pass attempts in the first half.

After ending the first half with an interception, Dart came out throwing in the second half and looked as impressive as he has since transferring from USC. He confidently fit passes into tight windows over the middle and connected with senior Jonathan Mingo on a stunning 27-yard bullet down the sideline.

It's hard to say conclusively if Dart has won the Rebels' quarterback battle. But the fact that he kept playing long after the Rebels had already put in their second-string offensive linemen and running backs shows that his coaches are still trying to get a good look at what he can do.

Cedric Johnson's big day

Junior defensive end Cedric Johnson had a game to remember. After making two tackles on the first drive of the game to help force a three-and-out, Johnson blocked and recovered the Yellow Jackets' first punt, setting up the offense for a quick score. He added a sack in the second quarter, becoming the first Ole Miss player to block a kick or punt and record a sack in the same game since 2012.

Ole Miss' pass rush had another big performance, wreaking havoc in the Rambling Wreck backfield with seven sacks and 12 tackles for loss.One of the big questions coming into the year was how the defense would play without All-American edge rusher Sam Williams, but through three games the unit has played more complete and aggressive without him.

What's next?

Ole Miss returns to action next Saturday against Tulsa. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. and the game will be televised on the SEC Network.

Contact Nick Suss at nsuss@gannett.com. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicksuss.