LEXINGTON, Ky. — The old adage of ‘It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” well…let’s just say that isn’t always the case. Sometimes it is how you finish and how you begin.
Ole Miss raced down the field to take an early lead over the Wildcats but needed an overtime period to beat Kentucky, 42-41, in Lexington.
(Click here for box score.)
The Wildcats took the ball in overtime and easily moved downfield. Quarterback Terry Wilson ran in from ten yards out for a touchdown, but Wildcat kicker Matt Ruffalo missed the conversion to give the Rebels a chance.
Ole Miss answered with a scoring pass from Matt Corral to Elijah Moore, and the kick by Luke Logan secured the first win in the Lane Kiffin era.
The game went back and forth all day. After the game, Coach Kiffin commented on his team’s ability to keep playing when the scoreboard isn’t going their way. “I feel like they actually played better from behind,” he said.
“We screwed up the speed option down at the goal line. I thought that was maybe going to haunt us. We should’ve walked in there. But it’s really good to fight back from that.”
Early on in the game, Ole Miss made it clear that the Lane Train offense would be moving quickly. On the opening drive and in the blink of an eye, quarterback Matt Corral and the Rebels’ offense moved 75 yards in eight plays, using just 2:22 off the clock for the game’s initial touchdown.
Corral threw for 44 yards on the initial march, and Jerrion Ealy ran for 29, the last one blasting over the goal line to put the Rebs ahead. Luke Logan’s kick gave Ole Miss the 7-0 lead.
Not to be shown up, on the first play of the ensuing drive, Kentucky running back A.J. Rose ran for 72 yards and would have scored, but he started to celebrate before he broke the plane. A hustling Jakorey Hawkins brought him down before Rose could score.
Two plays later, Rose was stonewalled and the ball popped loose. Ole Miss defensive lineman Ryder Anderson was right there to recover the ball at the two yard line, and not only did Ole Miss stop the scoring threat, it took possession.
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) October 3, 2020
The Rebels could not get out of the shadow of their own goalposts, however, and had to punt. Kentucky took over at the Ole Miss 29, and four plays later Wilson ran in from four yards. Matt Ruffalo’s kick tied the game at 7-7.
Later in the opening period, the ‘Cats took the lead when Rose scored from two yards, with Ruffalo’s kick giving Kentucky a 14-7 advantage.
Undaunted, Ole Miss pulled even early in the second period. This time, the offense took ten plays to score. But when Corral hit tight end Kenny Yeboah running free in the center of the field, the game was knotted once more, 14-14.
But Kentucky was not done.
With 29 seconds left before intermission, the Ole Miss defense let Wilson loose for a 22-yard touchdown run and after the extra point, the ‘Cats took a 21-14 lead into the half.
Second-half goes to the Rebels
Kentucky took the second-half kick and scored again. Essentially, the Wildcats scored two touchdowns without Ole Miss having a chance to do anything offensively, and it was 28-14 early in the third quarter.
But the Rebels answered quickly. Corral hit wide receiver Jonathan Mingo on a slant and he ran 24 yards for a touchdown. After the kick, Ole Miss was down just one score, 28-21.
Coach Kiffin was pleased with Mingo’s physicality. “It’s a great attitude. I wish we’d have that attitude all over. He made the most of his plays today.”
The next time Ole Miss had the ball, it looked as if the Rebels had scored on a Snoop Conner carry. After an official review, Conner’s touchdown run was judged to be short of the end zone. On fourth down, Ealy didn’t get in and Kentucky had matched the Ole Miss defensive stand from the first quarter.
But the Rebels didn’t let themselves get demoralized after the turnover on downs.
In fact, on the next Ole Miss possession, the Rebels showed what they’re made of. A five-play, 54-yard drive culminated in a 16-yard scoring strike to Mingo to pull the Rebs to within one. Luke Logan’s extra point tied the score at 28-28.
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) October 3, 2020
In the postgame press conference, Kiffin was asked about quarterback Matt Corral’s performance. “I thought he played (even) better today than last week. Last week guys were open. (Today) He had to make a lot of plays against a rush and we weren’t protecting him well.”
After the Landsharks stuffed the ‘Cats on the next series, including a huge MoMo Sonago sack on Wilson on a fourth down, the Rebels took over.
“It was a great call from Coach,” MoMo said of his sack, “and I knew I had to get there. I had to push harder, and I got there.”
Snoop Conner scored on the ensuing drive to give Ole Miss 21-unanswered points and a 35-28 edge with 8:23 to go.
That was too much time to give Kentucky.
The Wildcats drove 75 yards and tied the game when Chris Rodriguez scored with just over two minutes left.
And that sent the game into overtime, where the Rebels finished the way they started—with a touchdown and winning PAT.
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) October 4, 2020