AUBURN, Ala. — Oliver Goldsmith’s poem did not ring true.
His “loveliest village on the plains” was not so lovely for Ole Miss Saturday, and Auburn survived with a 20-14 win as the Rebels’ valiant comeback attempt fell short on the final possession.
(Click here for box score.)
Bo Nix led Auburn (7-2, 4-2 SEC) to a touchdown on the Tigers’ opening drive of the third quarter, scoring on a one-yard run that capped a 13-play, 54-yard drive that gave Auburn a commanding lead at 17-7.
Auburn added a late field goal to increase the its lead to 20-7 at the end of the third, but the Rebels (3-6, 2-4) would fight back.
The Tigers possessed the ball for almost the entire third quarter, keeping the Ole Miss offense off the field. Ole Miss only notched 31 yards in the period, while Auburn tallied 134 yards and 10 points. Gus Malzahn’s Auburn team finished the game with the time of possession edge over the Rebels, 36:03 to 23:57.
Following the loss, offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez discussed the Rebels’ passing attack. “We’ve got to get better in the passing game,” he began.
“We’ve got to pitch and catch. I’ve got to see what we can do and what we can execute. You’re not going to, at this point, do your schemes all over again. But these are passes today that our guys have completed pretty well and easily in practice. We just didn’t do it today.“
Ole Miss offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez
In the fourth, freshman running back Snoop Conner pulled Ole Miss to within a touchdown with 5:45 left to play. The Landshark defense forced one last stop and Auburn missed a field goal attempt that gave the Rebels the ball back with 1:14 to go in the game.
QB John Rhys Plumlee led Ole Miss’ final drive with a 17-yard pass to Braylon Sanders and a 20-yard rush that put the Rebels in Auburn territory.
Ole Miss drove to the Tigers’ 35, but on 4th and 3 with under 20 seconds to play, Plumlee was forced to scramble and was intercepted as time elapsed.
“Being in that situation right there at the end, it sucks because you know you’ve come up short,” Plumlee said.
“It kinds of feels like it’s recurring, coming up short there at the end. But I think it just kind of shows you how close this team is from being really, really good.“
Ole Miss QB John Rhys Plumlee
Ole Miss held the Tigers to 167 yards on the ground, but Auburn notched 340 through the air.
The Rebels tallied 222 yards total, 99 passing and 167 on the ground.
“I’m disappointed for our kids. They played their guts out. They’ve got a really good defense that made it really hard on us, run and pass.“
Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke on the loss to Auburn
The Ole Miss defense turned into Landsharks in the first quarter, forcing Auburn into two missed field goals and a fumble. But the offense could not turn those possessions into points and the game was a scoreless tie after one period.
The Tigers finally got on the board with just over six minutes to go in the first half on a 20-yard chip shot field goal by Anders Carlson.
D.J. Williams gave Auburn a touchdown when he was pulled into the end zone. After the kick, the Tigers led 10-0.
The Rebels did not coast into the half. After a 55-yard punt return by Elijah Moore, two plays later, John Rhys Plumlee raced four yards with less than a minute left in the half and after Luke Logan’s kick, Ole Miss only trailed 10-7 at the break.
Plumlee finished the game with 92 yards rushing, breaking the single-season rushing record of 544 yards set by Jeremiah Masoli in 2010. With three games left on the season, Plumlee has 600 yards rushing.
Next up, the Rebels host New Mexico State at 3:00 p.m. on November 9.