Sophomore receiver A.J. Brown ran his way into Ole Miss’ record books Saturday.
The Starkville native put on a show in the Rebels’ lopsided 47-27 win against South Alabama, catching eight passes for a single-game record 233 yards. He also scored two touchdowns.
With the performance, Brown passed Eddie Small’s 210-yard performance against Vanderbilt in 1993.
“I always knew he had something like that in him,” quarterback Shea Patterson said. “It’s funny, we have five guys kind of just like that and it’s funny because any one can have a game like that. That’s what makes this offense and them so special.”
Brown’s first touchdown came early in the second half, when he caught a pass over the middle, eluded the defensive back and sprinted to the end zone for a 71-yard touchdown. His second touchdown went for 77-yards and came on a broken play. Patterson was flushed from the pocket and ran toward the Ole Miss sideline before firing down field toward Brown, who snatched the ball between two defenders and took off down the sideline.
“Throughout the spring and summer we really harped on knowing the routes and reads and if something breaks down just go out there and play ball,” Patterson said. “He does a really good job of getting open if I scramble out.”
Patterson finished the game completing 28 of 35 for 429 and four touchdowns. He also scrambled six times. And while he gained 24 yards and kept several plays alive, he was also hit for a total of 18 yards behind the line of scrimmage, finishing with just 6 yards.
“I think protection got better as the game went on a little bit,” new offensive coordinator Phil Longo said. “He settled in a little bit. In the second half he scrambled when he needed to, not when he wanted to. That was the difference.”
Although improvising with his legs will likely be more difficult — or at least dangerous — for Patterson once the Rebels open their SEC schedule Sept. 30 at Alabama, Longo said he’s not concerned about his sophomore quarterback’s decision making.
“If he just depended on his athleticism I’d be more concerned. But he didn’t,” Longo said. “He ran the offense, made good decisions, delivered the football, distributed the ball and when the play broke down he made plays with his legs and athletic ability.”