Fighters Fight: Ole Miss defeats Kentucky, 37-34, for last-second victory on the road
Lexington, KY – What a difference a few seconds can make. Last Saturday, the Rebels led for 59 minutes and 56 seconds in the game against Arkansas, only to drop a heartbreaker via a Razorbacks’ field goal in the final four seconds.
Down 34-30 in this week’s game against Kentucky on the road in Lexington, Ole Miss (4-5, 2-4 SEC) took the ball in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter and marched calmly down the field to score the touchdown that gave the Rebels a victory over the Wildcats (6-3, 3-3).
Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, filling in for the injured Shea Patterson, led the Rebels on a 14-play, 71-yard drive that took 2:09 minutes and culminated in a spectacular 7-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver D.K. Metcalf in the back corner of the end zone.
D.K. Metcalf … are you for real?
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) November 5, 2017
With all of Rebel Nation holding its breath, the play was reviewed to make sure Metcalf had control of the ball in bounds. The players, however, were not worried at all.
“As soon as he caught the ball, I knew it was a touchdown,” said Ta’amu.
“I knew they were going to review it, but in my head I knew it was a touchdown from the start and it was a wonderful catch by him. I knew it was a touchdown. D.K. (Metcalf) just being D.K. out there.”
QB Jordan Ta’amu on D.K. Metcalf’s TD catch
Linebacker DeMarquis Gates, who finished with 14 tackles (13 solo), also had no doubt the touchdown would stand.”There was never a doubt. I threw my hands up immediately,” he said.
“That is D.K. Metcalf, man. That is money.“
LB DeMarquis Gates on Metcalf’s TD
That TD and PAT gave the Rebels a 37-34 lead with a mere five seconds left on the clock, reversing the fortunes for head coach Matt Luke’s team from the gut wrenching loss last week.
Quitters quit; fighters fight
We’ve said for weeks now: Quitters quit; fighters fight. And this is an Ole Miss team made up of fighters.
Regardless of what happens on or off the field—and make no mistake, there have been enough distractions for the Rebels that could easily demoralize a lesser group of young men — this team has kept its collective head up.
These players fight for their pride, for the guy playing next to them, and for their coach. They embody the blue-collar, take-your-lunchpail-to-work mentality of their head coach, a former offensive lineman known for his mental and physical toughness.
Throughout this season, we’ve pointed out that no matter whether the Rebels lose by a lot or a little—they never quit. And after the game, Coach Luke said as much.
“They fought and they showed up,” he said of his team.
“You know, I think in the back of people’s minds everybody was like `When are these guys going to quit? When are they going to give up? When are they not going to show up?.’ And they just continued to show up, continued to fight.”
Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke
Coach Luke made it clear what his players’ resiliency means to him.
“I am so proud of these kids,” Luke said. “They kept coming back and battling. They continued to do that tonight. They put themselves in position to win the game and made a play to do it.
A play that came with a scant 5 seconds left on the clock.
After the win, it was Gates, playing with two injured shoulders, who best described the Rebels’ heart and tenacity:
“We are never going to quit,” he said.
“We are never going to just give you a game. We might make mistakes and slip up. But we are never going to stop fighting.”
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) November 4, 2017
The Rebels return to the friendly confines of Vaught-Hemingway this Saturday at 11:00 a.m. (CT) when they take on the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana.
(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)