Postgame Points: Ole Miss 37, Arkansas 33
Each week, The Rebel Walk’s Jeff Tetrick takes a look at the Ole Miss Postgame Points, examining five takeaways from the Rebels’ most recent football game. Here are his Postgame Points from the big SEC win over Arkansas.
1. Final drive of first half
The Ole Miss Rebels were involved in a fight to the finish on Saturday night in Little Rock. When all was said and done, the Rebels rallied for a thrilling 37-33 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks at War Memorial Stadium. Ole Miss improves to 5-2 on the year with its first SEC victory.
The Rebels trailed 27-10 in the waning moments of the second quarter. That is when Ole Miss marched 77 yards in just over 2 minutes to score and pull within 10 points of the Razorbacks.
Jordan Ta’amu connected with DaMarkus Lodge for a touchdown pass that made it 27-17 at halftime. Credit the coaches and players for responding to adversity and fighting their way back into the game.
The final drive of the first half seemed to turn the tide in favor of Ole Miss. Down seventeen points, the Rebels refused to give up. They fought back quickly and put points on the board before halftime to go into the break with some momentum.
That final drive was a key moment in the game, as the touchdown energized Ole Miss and set the stage for a sensational second-half comeback.
2. Flipped the script
After struggling to stop Arkansas in the first half, the Ole Miss defense completely flipped the script in the second half. The Rebels made some adjustments, tackled better, and made timely stops in the second half. While the offense did its part to win this game, the defensive effort in the second half is what fueled the comeback victory.
In the opening thirty minutes of play, Arkansas ran 34 plays for 303 yards and 27 points. The Razorbacks produced three touchdowns and two field goals on their first five possessions of the game. Arkansas did not punt in the first half.
The Ole Miss defense then switched gears and changed the course of the game in the second half. In the third quarter, the Rebels held the Razorbacks to 112 yards of offense and a pair of field goals.
In the decisive fourth quarter, the defense was at its best when the team needed the unit to make stops. The Rebels limited Arkansas to 56 yards, two punts, one interception, and zero points on three possessions.
In all, Ole Miss allowed Arkansas just 168 yards and 6 points on 36 plays in the final thirty minutes. It was truly a tale of two halves for the Landsharks. In my opinion, it was the best half of defense played by Ole Miss in the past two seasons.
3. Clutch plays
There is no question that the defense made several clutch plays in the second half of the Arkansas game. Yet, the Rebel offense also came through in clutch situations throughout the game.
Ole Miss was at its finest on the game-winning, 97-yard touchdown drive that started with just 2:02 remaining on the clock. It was very similar to the 71-yard drive by the Rebels in the final 2:14 last fall in Lexington when Ole Miss rallied past Kentucky, 37-34. Jordan Ta’amu, A. J. Brown, Dawson Knox, and Scottie Phillips made keys plays that culminated in the go-ahead touchdown.
Ole Miss delivered in critical moments on third down and in the red zone against the Razorbacks. The Rebels converted on 6 of 10 third-down attempts in the game. Ole Miss went 5 of 6 in red zone scoring opportunities, cashing in with 4 touchdowns and a field goal for 31 points.
4. Consistent balance
Ole Miss showed a very consistent balance on offense in the win over Arkansas. The Rebels ran the ball 38 times for 224 yards and 3 touchdowns. Scottie Phillips, Isaiah Woullard, and Jordan Ta’amu accounted for the rushing touchdowns.
The Rebels threw the ball 35 times for 387 yards and 2 scores. DaMarkus Lodge and Octavious Cooley were on the receiving end of touchdown tosses by Ta’amu.
In the first half, Ole Miss ran 41 plays for 308 yards and 17 points. In the second stanza, the Rebels needed just 32 plays to produce 303 yards and 20 points. For the game, Ole Miss racked up 611 yards on 73 plays and averaged 8.4 yards per play.
5. The history books
Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu was a poised leader for Ole Miss in the 37-33 SEC win over Arkansas. The senior from Hawaii had a day to remember and one for the history books against the Razorbacks. Ta’amu ran the ball 17 times for 141 yards and a touchdown. He completed 26 of 35 passes for 387 yards and 2 touchdowns.
With 528 yards of total offense, Ta’amu put his name in second place in the Ole Miss record book for total offense in a single game. The record of 540 yards was set by Ole Miss legend Archie Manning in one of the greatest games in college football history. At Legion Field in Birmingham in October 1969, Manning passed for 436 yards and 2 touchdowns and ran for 104 yards and 3 touchdowns against Alabama. The No. 15 Crimson Tide edged No. 20 Ole Miss, 33-32, on a late touchdown in that classic. Manning became a legend around the nation that night, becoming the first player to pass for 300 yards and run for 100 yards in an FBS game.
When an Ole Miss player approaches a record held by Archie Manning in a historical game, it is safe to say that player had a great night. Indeed, Jordan Ta’amu and the Rebels had a great night in Little Rock.