November 6, 2010 10:32:00 PM
OXFORD -- With its best playmaker relegated to the sidelines, the University of Mississippi football team kept the playbook simple.
And with a punishing running game led by Brandon Bolden''s 136 rushing yards and two touchdowns, Ole Miss plowed past Louisiana-Lafayette 43-21 on Saturday night.
Ole Miss quarterback Jeremiah Masoli left the game after suffering a concussion in the first quarter with the Rebels leading 24-7. His backup, sophomore Nathan Stanley, completed 6 of 14 passes for 108 yards, but let his running backs and kicker do most of the work.
Bolden was the best of the bunch, also catching four passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. But Enrique Davis was a big part of the offense as well, adding 116 rushing yards as the Rebels gained 298 yards on the ground. It''s the first time Ole Miss (4-5) has had two 100-yard rushers in one game since 1999.
"I appreciated coach Nutt giving us this chance," Bolden said. "Enrique and I just told him to put the game on our shoulders and he did."
Bryson Rose added a career-high five field goals as the Rebels snapped a three-game losing streak.
Louisiana-Lafayette (2-7) has lost five straight games and is 0-37 all-time against teams from the Southeastern Conference. Brad McGuire was 7 of 21 for 139 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown.
Ole Miss looked like it would win easily in the first quarter, bolting out to a 17-7 lead on Masoli''s 6-yard touchdown run. But Masoli appeared dazed after the play and played just one more series, throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass to Bolden before leaving for good.
Nutt said Masoli was feeling better after the game, but would undergo tests for the next few days before making a decision about his status for next weekend''s game against Tennessee.
With the Rebels'' offense in a bit of disarray, Louisiana-Lafayette rallied in the second quarter, pulling within 27-21 after Melvin White''s 93-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown silenced the crowd at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
"We were right where we wanted to be," Louisiana-Lafayette coach Ricky Bustle said. "We were close."
But Rose kicked his third field goal of the game just before halftime and added two more in the second half, helping the Rebels slowly pull away for the victory. Rose connected twice from 30 yards, and once each from 27, 24 and 20 yards. His 19 total points in the game ranks second for a kicker in school history.
Rose is in his first season as the starter after taking over for Joshua Shene, who was one of the most prolific kickers in school history.
"Bryson''s been outstanding," Nutt said. "Very consistent. We didn''t know what to expect after losing an all-conference kicker, but he''s come in and done great."
Louisiana-Lafayette never scored in the second half. The Ole Miss defense, which was giving up 34.4 points per game before Saturday''s game, held the Ragin'' Cajuns to just 215 total yards and forced three turnovers.
Ole Miss defensive tackle Jerrell Powe said the team''s season-opening 49-48 loss to Jacksonville State, a team from the Football Championship Subdivision, was fresh on his mind as the Rebels clamped down in the second half.
"We pinned our ears back," Powe said. "We didn''t want any letdown like we did against Jacksonville State. We''ve got three games left and we still want to go to a bowl game. We like this winning feeling. We needed this."
Freshman Mike Marry, who started in place of injured middle linebacker Jonathan Cornell, made a team-high 11 tackles.