OXFORD, Miss. – Opportunities knocked for Ole Miss several times Saturday night, but the Rebels left them on the front porch.
Ole Miss squandered numerous chances to win and Texas A&M picked up a 24-17 win over the Rebels in front of a crowd of 50,257 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
The Rebels missed a field goal, had one blocked, threw an interception and lost a fumble which set in motion a second half of should haves and could haves.
Leading 14-10 in the third quarter after taking the second-half kickoff and driving for the lead score, Ole Miss was poised to add to its lead. But fate didn’t see it that way.
Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee dropped back to pass and the pass rush got to him. The ball was knocked from his grasp and the Aggies’ Buddy Johnson picked it up and raced 69 yards for a touchdown. Instead of increasing its lead, Ole Miss saw it slip away.
The Rebels never recovered from the turnover.
“It certainly didn’t help (momentum wise),” Ole Miss coach Matt Luke said.
“We came out and had a great drive to start the second half. Punched one in. Took the lead and had a chance to go make it a two-score game and it didn’t happen. They made a play and we didn’t.“
Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke
Each team went three-and-out on its first possession of the game, but on its second, Texas A&M began to move the ball. Mond accounted for 38 yards on the drives first three plays to put the Aggies at the Ole Miss 25.
A&M drove 73 yards, but the drive stalled at the Rebels’ six and the Aggies settled for a 24-yard field goal by Seth Small and a 3-0 lead.
Ole Miss countered in a quick, decisive way. On the second play after taking over after a touchback on the ensuing kickoff, Jerrion Ealy made his presence known with a 69-yard scoring scamper. Ealy took a handoff around the left side, sprinted down the sideline and shook a tackle at the 10 to put the Rebels on top. Luke Logan’s conversion gave the Rebs a sudden 7-3 lead.
Ealy finished the game with 80 yards rushing, all in the first half. He did not play after halftime due to flu-like symptoms.
The Aggies again drove on its next possession, but the Landshark defense stiffened forcing Texas A&M in to a 51-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide right.
Early in the second quarter, Donta Evans gave the Rebels the ball when he intercepted Mond off a Keidron Smith deflection at the Ole Miss 38.
The offense got the ball to the Aggies’ 25, but a penalty, a negative play and an incomplete pass forced Logan into a 50-yard field goal attempt that skirted outside the right upright.
Texas A&M took over with enough time to drive 67 yards in six plays and with under a minute to go in the half, Mond hit Kendrick Rogers with an 18-yard scoring strike. The conversion game the Aggies a 10-7 halftime edge.
Ole Miss took the second-half kickoff and on its first play, Scottie Phillips ripped off a 38-yard run to the Aggies’ 27. Two plays later, Corral hit Phillips with a 22-yard pass to move the ball to the two. From there, freshman Snoop Conner blasted in to put the Rebels back in the lead. Logan’s kick gave Ole Miss a 14-10 lead.
The drive took just 1:30.
The Rebels were moving the ball well on their next possession when the Plumlee fumble and subsequent Aggie return put Ole Miss behind 17-14.
The Rebels moved the ball again on their ensuing drive. But the drive stalled and forced another Logan field goal attempt. This one, from 35 yards was blocked and Texas A&M maintained its lead.
Again, Ole Miss got the ball in the third quarter and started to move, but this drive was stopped when Corral was picked off at the Aggies’ 35 to end the period.
In the third quarter, Ole Miss picked up 138 yards, but could only muster seven points.
Texas A&M salted the game away with a touchdown in the fourth quarter while Logan hit a 35-yard field goal with 26 seconds left to provide the final margin.
Ole Miss outgained the Aggies 405-337 in the game, earned more first downs and had more third-down conversions.
The Rebels simply could not take advantage of their opportunities.
“There’s a lot of hurt guys in that locker room,” Luke said.
“A lot went into that game. I thought the defense especially played their guts out. We just came up short. We were a little bit out of sync on offense, had several opportunities. The defense played their guts out and gave us a chance to win. We just came up short.“
Coach Luke on the Rebels’ loss
Ole Miss has next week off before heading to Auburn Nov. 2.