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With division title hopes still alive, Evan Engram motivated for Rebels’ return-trip to Fayetteville

With division title hopes still alive, Evan Engram motivated for Rebels’ return-trip to Fayetteville

OXFORD, Miss. – The last time Ole Miss took a road trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas, the Rebels were ranked No. 8 in the country and the Landshark defense led the nation in points per game allowed (11.9).

Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram remembers that Saturday as “an ugly day from the jump.”

A perfect storm

Going into that particular Saturday on Nov. 22, 2014, Arkansas was coming off a 17-0 victory over No. 17 LSU. After their team defeated the Tigers, fans stormed the field inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in celebration of the program’s first Southeastern Conference win since 2012 and Bret Bielema’s first conference win as head coach, following 13 straight losses.

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In 2014, then-sophomore tight end Evan Engram had 5 catches for 65 yards in the Rebels’ loss. (Photo credit: Bentley Breland, The Rebel Walk)

The Razorbacks gained some confidence with the win over the Tigers, and they had high hopes they could pull off another upset over an AP Top 25 program. On that rainy-soaked, November day in Fayetteville, the Hogs did just that as they handed head coach Hugh Freeze’s Rebels their third straight loss in conference play.

Arkansas pummeled Ole Miss, 30-0, notching the team’s second-consecutive shutout for the first time since 2002. It was the first time the program held a conference opponent scoreless since 1965 – when Arkansas was a member of the Southwest Conference.

The Rebels had a hard time capturing the magic that had skyrocketed the program to a 7-0 start—including wins over Alabama and Texas A&M. In the loss to the Razorbacks, Ole Miss committed three first-half turnovers – six in all –  and had 63 yards rushing on 33 attempts. Quarterback Bo Wallace, who passed for 235 yards and threw two interceptions, missed two series with a right ankle injury while the Razorbacks built an early 17-0 lead.

To make matters worse, Ole Miss’ wide receiver Laquon Treadwell was out for the season after suffering a broken leg in the Rebels’ heartbreaking 35-31 loss to Auburn. The team still seemed somewhat shell-shocked from his gruesome injury.

“Stuff wasn’t going our way, turnovers, the weather was cold and rainy, couldn’t really make a big play,” said Engram, who had five receptions for 65 yards in the loss. “That’s a big part of our offense, being able to be efficient through the air. It’s really tough to do that in those conditions,” he added.

That weather played perfectly into their scheme – ground and pound. That was a tough day. I don’t really think about that game too much because of how bad it was.

Tight end Evan Engram

Engram confident the Rebels can make it to Atlanta

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Engram takes the field before the Rebels’ win over Memphis in 2016. (Photo credit: Amanda Swain, The Rebel Walk)

Engram, who leads the SEC in average yards receiving per game (95.8), admitted he’s looking forward to going back to Fayetteville to get the bad taste out of his mouth and to try and gain some ground in the tough SEC Western Division.

Engram is confident No. 12 Ole Miss (3-2, 1-1 SEC) can play for the SEC Championship in Atlanta, a goal the Powder Springs, Georgia native has had in mind since the beginning of his senior season.

But in order for the Rebels to make Engram’s ambition to play in his home state a reality, they will have to win an SEC road game against the 22nd-ranked Razorbacks (4-2, 0-2), who are coming off a tough 49-30 loss to the top-ranked Crimson Tide.

We have the talent; we have the offense. Our defense is getting confident and getting better. We’ve got a lot of great teams left to play, a lot of tough road games. That’s going to be a huge test for us. But from what I’ve seen in the first half of the season, I definitely think we have enough to run the table. We have enough talent and enough grit and belief to do it.

Evan Engram on Rebels’ chances of SEC Title game appearance

Game info:

Ole Miss and Arkansas face off at 6:00 p.m. (CT) on Saturday, October 15, in Fayetteville. The game will be televised by ESPN.

(Feature image of Evan Engram in 2014 Arkansas game: Bentley Breland, The Rebel Walk)

About The Author

Courtney Smith

Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men's basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.

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