OXFORD, Miss. – Senior quarterback Chad Kelly threw for a school-record 465 yards and three touchdowns, but Ole Miss came up just short in a 40-29 loss to No. 15 Auburn Saturday in front of 65,927 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Kelly completed 36 of 59 passes and broke Archie Manning’s 47-year-old Ole Miss single-game passing record with 465 yards. He threw three TDs and added 40 yards rushing to lead the game with 505 yards of total offense, which is the second highest total in school history trailing only Manning’s mark of 540 yards.
The Ole Miss offense came out firing on all cylinders after the opening kickoff as Kelly directed the Rebels 73 yards in 12 plays. He capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown strike to tight end Evan Engram that gave Ole Miss an early 6-0 lead. It was Engram’s 13th career touchdown catch, which broke Butch Veazey’s previous school record. Engram finished the game with a team-high nine catches for 95 yards and broke his own school record for receiving yards in a season by a tight end set last year.
The Tigers responded with a scoring drive of their own after running back Kamryn Pettway raced 41 yards on 3rdand short to put Auburn up 7-6 with 7:27 left in the first quarter.
Kelly led the Rebels right back down the field completing throws of 10, 14 and 21 before finding DaMarkus Lodge from 26 yards out for his second TD strike of the opening frame. The Tigers tacked on a 45-yard field goal with 1:50 left in the opening quarter to cut the Ole Miss lead to 13-10.
After forcing the Tigers’ field goal, Kelly marched Ole Miss down the field again, but this time the Rebels’ drive stalled at the Auburn three-yard line and they settled for a Gary Wunderlich 20-yard field goal that pushed the lead to 16-10.
Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson scored from one yard out on the ensuing Tiger possession to regain the lead at 17-16 with 12:33 left in the first half. Not to be outdone, Kelly orchestrated another Rebel scoring drive, leading Ole Miss down to the Auburn 32 yard-line and Wunderlich converted from a career-long 49 yards out to give Ole Miss a 19-17 lead with 7:10 to go in the half.
The Tigers tacked on another field goal with 2:50 left in the first half, this one from 32 yards out to grab a 20-19 lead but Kelly again marched Ole Miss to the Tiger nine-yard line and Wunderlich connected on his third field goal of the first half to give the Rebels a 22-20 lead heading to intermission.
After both teams traded possessions twice to open the second half Auburn quarterback Sean White found Jalen White over the middle for a 15-yard touchdown that gave the Tigers a 27-22 lead with 3:11 left in the third quarter. Kelly answered back for the Rebels on the next possession as he carried the Rebels 75 in seven plays, including a 16-yard scamper on third-and-long to keep the drive alive. He found Damore’ea Stringfellow in the end zone from 10 yards out to put Ole Miss back on top 29-27 with 1:30 remaining in the third.
On the next Auburn possession, the Tigers added another Daniel Carlson field goal this time from 30 yards to retake the lead 30-29 with 12:25 to play in regulation. Carlson booted another field goal, his fourth of the game, from 47 yards to extend the Auburn lead to 33-29 with 8:03 left.
Carlos Davis busted off a 43-yard kickoff return to set the Rebels up near midfield. Kelly found Engram over the middle, but the senior dropped a would be touchdown and Kelly was picked off on the next play to end the Ole Miss scoring threat. Auburn returned the ball to the Ole Miss 25 and punched it in the end zone three plays later to take a 40-29 lead with 5:58 left.
Ole Miss welcomes Georgia Southern to Oxford next weekend Nov. 5. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. and the game will be televised on the SEC Network.