Shea Patterson leads Ole Miss to thrilling victory over No. 8 Aggies
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – William Henley’s epic poem “Invictus” describes fortitude in the face of adversity. One could, however, say the same for the 2016 season of Ole Miss football.
The Rebels (5-5, 2-4 SEC) entered Saturday night’s contest with A&M at Kyle Field bloody — but undeniably unbowed–and they departed College Station with a hard-fought, 29-28 victory over a top 10 team.
Having lost both quarterback Chad Kelly and defensive end John Youngblood last Saturday to season-ending injuries, the Rebels faced off against A&M (7-3, 4-3 SEC) without two of their most-respected leaders. Playing in front of 104,892 in a hostile environment is never easy, much less when battered and bruised.
Senior center Robert Conyers and sophomore lineman Sean Rawlings somehow summoned the strength to play their hearts out, giving all they could while suffering through the pain of injury. Earlier this season, in addition to Kelly and Youngblood, the Rebels lost cornerback Ken Webster, running back Eric Swinney, wide receiver D.K. Metcalf and safety C.J. Moore for the season, due to injury.
Yet, the Rebels continue to enter each game with the goal of “going 1-0 this week” with whomever is the “next man up.”
Patterson’s poise helps Rebels defeat Aggies
Much to the chagrin of the maroon-clad Aggies, freshman quarterback Shea Patterson never gave up.
In fact, he seemed to get better and better as the game went on. He finished 25-for-42 for 338 yards passing, two touchdowns and 1 interception. He rushed 15 times for 64 yards. His passing yards and total offense (402) were both records for an Ole Miss freshman.
The Rebels entered halftime trailing 21-6, a position they have been unaccustomed to this season. Yet in the second half, the defense stiffened and held A&M to just seven points.
But holding the Aggies was only half the battle as Ole Miss still had to find a way to get the ball in the end zone for points.
Turns out that was no problem for Shea Patterson as he simply engineered three straight touchdown drives and moved the Rebels down the field on the final drive to set up Gary Wunderlich’s game-winning, 39-yard field goal with 37 seconds remaining.
The resulting 15-point comeback for the Rebels is the largest since Coach Freeze’s arrival in Oxford.
One final stop
After taking the lead 29-28, the banged up Rebels had to stop the Aggies on one final possession. With 16 seconds remaining in the game, freshman Deontay Anderson intercepted Jake Hubenak’s pass and Ole Miss players and fans, alike, erupted in celebration.
Though the Rebels’ rush defense has been much-maligned this season, the Landsharks showed up Saturday night, limiting the Aggie offense to only 129 yards on the ground.
A&M entered the game averaging 234 yards on the ground.
Ole Miss finished the game with 490 total yards of offense (338 passing, 152 rushing). Eight different receivers caught passes for the Rebels.
So as Shea Patterson begins his career at Ole Miss by breaking records and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat — on the road against the nation’s No. 8 team — one could say the freshman phenom embodies the final lines of Henley’s “Invictus:”
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
No one can argue that Patterson was anything less on this special November evening.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)
Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.