OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — No. 14 Mississippi overpowered another non-conference opponent with points and yards galore.
The final result was a lopsided 52-3 victory over New Mexico State that included Chad Kelly’s 384 yards passing and an acrobatic one-handed touchdown grab by Laquon Treadwell.
The highlights were certainly a welcome sight for the Rebels after last week’s sobering 38-10 loss to Florida. But there wasn’t a whole lot of celebrating considering they still had sloppy moments — including three turnovers — and much tougher games coming up.
“We can get so much better,” Treadwell said.
Ole Miss continued its trend of putting up huge offensive numbers against weaker non-conference opponents. The Rebels have averaged 67 points per game in victories over UT Martin, Fresno State and the Aggies.
The Ole Miss defense kept New Mexico State out of the end zone. Trae Elston and Mike Hilton both grabbed interceptions.
“This one was important,” Hilton said. “We didn’t want to keep a bad taste in our mouths from a loss and this helps get rid of that.”
Kelly, who came into the day leading the Southeastern Conference in passing, has topped 300 yards in four of six games this season. He completed 24 of 33 throws as his uncle — Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly — watched for the first time in Oxford.
Treadwell caught eight passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns.
The Rebels (5-1) finished with 665 yards of total offense. Eugene Brazley ran for a team-high 98 yards, including a 78-yard touchdown.
New Mexico State (0-5) couldn’t convert a few good opportunities after Ole Miss turnovers. The Aggies missed on two field goal attempts. Redshirt freshman Nick Jeanty completed 11 of 22 passes for 74 yards.
“We played an elite football team and they have more weapons that we do right now,” New Mexico State coach Doug Martin said.
Kelly was accurate most of the afternoon and the highlight was his 37-yard touchdown to Treadwell. The junior receiver ran an awkward route before Kelly let it fly. Treadwell recovered and then reached out with his right hand, grabbing the ball and cradling it against his body before gliding into the end zone.
“I knew he would get it,” Kelly said. “If you give ‘Quan a chance, he’s going to get it and it was a fantastic catch.”
The Rebels had four sacks, including one by junior linebacker Terry Caldwell, who started his first game in place of the injured C.J. Johnson. The running game averaged nearly eight yards per carry.
But there were also some bad moments. The Rebels quickly drove down the field on their first possession, but bogged down on first-and-goal at the 9 and settled for a field goal.
The punt return unit had two turnovers. Carlos Davis fumbled twice, recovering one while New Mexico State recovered the other. On another punt, the Rebels’ D.K. Buford lost sight of a bouncing ball and let it hit his foot. It was recovered by the New Mexico State.
“We did a lot of good things today,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. “But there are still critical moments in the game when we don’t execute properly.”
The mistakes didn’t matter on Saturday because the gulf in talent was so wide. But Ole Miss will need a cleaner performance next weekend when it goes on the road to face a much-improved Memphis team that has won 12 straight.