Ole Miss comeback attempt comes up short as Cal defeats Rebels, 28-20
OXFORD, Miss – Cal’s defense is known as “The Takers,” after a 2010 motion picture about a crafty bunch of bank robbers.
Saturday, the Bears pulled off a heist taking a 28-20 win over Ole Miss at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
(Click here for box score.)
True freshman quarterback John Rhys Plumlee was stopped inches from the goal line as time ran out to kill an amazing comeback attempt by the Rebels. Ole Miss had driven 89 yards in 2:45, but it was not quite enough.
According to some, the Pac-12 officials got away with theft as well.
The last-ditch effort by Plumlee was necessary because of the previous play. Plumlee hit Elijah Moore who was standing in the end zone, but the officials ruled the ball had not crossed the plane of the goal and marked it short of a touchdown as the clock ran.
The officials also refused to stop the clock to review the play leaving Ole Miss with no choice but to try and get off a play before time expired and Plumlee was stopped by the Cal defense.
— Keith Carter (@KeithCarterOM) September 21, 2019
Ole Miss falls to 2-2, No. 23 Cal is now 4-0.
The Takers took, but Ole Miss gave a lot as well.
Open receivers were missed, there were a few dropped passes, field goals were wide right, there were some missed tackles and a few costly penalties.
The Rebels’ miscues combined with Cal’s talent was a recipe for a loss.
“It was a very tough loss,” Ole Miss coach Matt Luke said.
“It was very disappointing for our kids because they fought their hearts out. We made too many mistakes to win. Credit California, they made plays. Too much inconsistency and not getting off the field on third downs and not making the plays we need to win the game.”
Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke
Cal quarterback Chase Garbers went 23-of-35 for 357 yards and he threw touchdowns to four different receivers.
Defensively for the Golden Bears, Evan Weaver had a career-high 22 tackles including the final one of the game stopping Plumlee just short of the end zone.
In only two drives, Plumlee was 7-of-7 for 82 yards and he ran for an additional 53.
“We’ve talked with him several times about him being prepared for his opportunity and his opportunity came,” Luke said of Plumlee.
“He made the best of it. He made a play with his legs and set us forward several yards and he ignited the sideline and the stadium, so I was very pleased with him. Credit to him for staying ready and for coach (Rich) Rodriguez for having him ready.“
Matt Luke on John Rhys Plumlee
The Rebels moved the ball well on its initial drive of the game but came away with nothing as Luke Logan pushed a 47-yard field goal attempt to the right.
Cal’s opening series was more successful.
The Bears drove 70 yards in ten plays and got into the end zone when Garbers hit Trevon Clark with a six-yard scoring strike. Greg Thomas hit the conversion to give Cal an early 7-0 lead.
Ole Miss was unfazed on the ensuing possession. The Rebels drove 75 yards – 43 through the air and 31 on the ground – to Matt Corral’s first rushing touchdown. The California native scampered around the right side for a two-yard score and Logan’s kick tied the score, 7-7.
After forcing the first punt of the game, Ole Miss took over and mounted a drive to take the lead. The Rebels drove 57 yards in 12 plays, but the march stalled, and Logan came on to drill a 29-yard field goal to provide Ole Miss with a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter.
The lead did not last long.
After taking possession on a touchback, Cal found itself in the end zone ten plays later when Garbers threw his second touchdown of the day, a 13-yarder to Christopher Brown, Jr. The conversion gave the Bears a 14-10 advantage.
Later in the quarter, the Landsharks made their presence known. Freshman Deantre Prince stepped in front of a Garbers pass for an interception and he returned it 21 yards to the Cal 35.
“He (Prince) is a really good athlete, he’s learning to play the position,” defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre said of the true freshman. “He basically played quarterback in high school, I think he is a really gifted athlete and he’ll keep playing for us.”
However, the offense stalled and had to settle for another Logan field goal, this one from 33 yards, and Ole Miss cut the lead to 14-13. That score stood at the half.
Cal came out just as hot in the third quarter as it was in the first half. The Bears took the second-half kick and quickly moved into the red zone. It took just 3:35 for Cal to get into the end zone when Gabbers hit Hattiesburg native Jordan Duncan for a nine-yard scoring pass. The kick put Cal ahead 21-13.
The Rebels’ offense cooled off in the second half.
The Bears’ defense stopped Ole Miss on a three-and-out and took their next possession at their own 28 and four plays later, Garbers found tight end Jake Tongis who took a pass over the middle, broke a tackle and raced 60 yards for the touchdown.
Suddenly Ole Miss was down 28-13.
The two third-quarter scoring drives by Cal combined took 13 plays, covered 147 yards and only took 4:35 off the clock.
In the fourth, the Ole Miss offense mounted a drive put the Rebels at the Cal one-yard line. But a disastrous series lowlighted by a bad shotgun snap that lost 11 yards led to a 29-yard field goal attempt that Logan missed to preserve Cal’s 15-point lead.
Late in the game, Corral was forced to the sidelines after he was shaken up and a pair of true freshmen who will also play baseball at Ole Miss stepped up to the plate.
On his first collegiate play, Plumlee took off and rumbled 47 yards to put the Rebels at the Cal 15. The next snap, Plumlee handed to Jerrion Ealy who raced into the end zone. Logan’s kick got Ole Miss closer, 28-20 with 4:29 left.
But the Rebels finished a few inches shy of completing the comeback.
Corral finished the day 22-of-41 for 266. He also led the Rebels with 56 yards on the ground.
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.