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Gamer: Ole Miss defeats No. 11 Indiana, 26-20, to win Outback Bowl

Gamer: Ole Miss defeats No. 11 Indiana, 26-20, to win Outback Bowl

TAMPA, Fla. – After a record-setting offensive performance in the weird 2020 season, it was the Ole Miss defense that provided the play of the year that led the Rebels to a 26-20 win over No. 11 Indiana in the Outback Bowl.

When Quinten Bivens forced an errant Indiana pass, Ole Miss had secured its first bowl win since the Sugar Bowl five years ago.

After the game, head coach Lane Kiffin talked about what the victory means. “Cool day for the program, the players and the fans. Winning a bowl game after five years of not being in one. And we’re just getting started.”

But before the Landsharks could do their duty, the Ole Miss offense had to achieve its goal. Wide receiver Dontario Drummond caught a three-yard touchdown from Matt Corral late in the game to give Ole Miss a six-point lead after a last-minute touchdown drive.

Ole Miss seemed to take the game in hand from the outset, but the Hoosiers, coached by former Ole Miss assistant, Tom Allen, never gave up.

On its first drive, Ole Miss moved the ball deep into Hoosier territory, but a penalty forced the Rebels to settle for a Luke Logan 26-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead. Just a little more than two minutes had expired from the clock.

Later in the quarter, Indiana tied the score with a 50-yarder from Charles Campbell after the Hoosiers drove 11 plays and 49 yards.

The Rebels methodically moved downfield, but stalled in the red zone and Logan came on to nail a 24-yarder that would give Ole Miss a 6-3 lead to end the first quarter.

Next, the Rebels had what might be their most-impressive drive of the season en route to scoring the first touchdown of the game. Ole Miss drove 76 yards in 18 plays – yes 18 plays – and converted two fourth downs. The march culminated in a five-yard scoring pass from Corral to freshman tight end Casey Kelly and after the kick, Ole Miss led 13-3.

Yes, Casey Kelly is the younger brother of former Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly.

“Casey is a hard worker. He shows it,” said Corral after the game. “Always asking questions. Doesn’t mess around a lot. I trusted him based on how he prepares for a game and in practice, always asking questions. He’s always locked in and always a hard worker.”

Otis Reese quelled the Indiana response with an interception late in the first half, but the Rebels could not convert the turnover into points. Ole Miss punter Mac Brown flipped the field by pinning the Hoosiers back at their own five.

The Rebels had a last-second chance to add to their lead, but Logan’s field goal was blocked, and the halftime score held.

Second-half action

In the third quarter, Indiana’s Campbell hit a 53-yard field goal to cut the Rebels’ lead to 13-6.

But Ole Miss rebounded with an 87-yard drive and Snoop Conner put six points on the board on a four-yard TD run. The touchdown and kick increased the Rebels’ lead to 20-6.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Stevie Smith III took a direct snap on an 80-yard drive to cut the Hoosier deficit to 20-13. The Rebels on the ensuing drive missed a field goal to give Indiana momentum early in the fourth quarter.

Indiana drove the length of the field to put the game where it started. Smith copied his first run with a short touchdown run to tie the game with five minutes left.

Sophomore John Rhys Plumlee, playing in the slot after Elijah Moore opted out, had a huge day, recording five catches for 73 yards. Plumlee’s 45-yard reception to the Indiana five-yard line set up the game-winning score.

Landsharks seal the win

In the end, it was the often-maligned Ole Miss defense who stepped up big to seal the victory.

With under two minutes to go in the game, Tuttle’s pass to Whop Philyor resulted in a loss of two yards after he was dropped by Keidron Smith. Then on 2nd and 12 with 1:18 remaining, Tuttle was sacked for a loss of six yards by Ole Miss freshman Cedric Johnson.

The ensuing 3rd and 18 resulted in an incomplete pass that was broken up by Tylan Knight.

And on 4th and 18, Tuttle was pressured hard by Bivens and could only watch as his pass was incomplete to Philyor, giving Ole Miss the victory.

Ole Miss linebacker Jacquez Jones, who led the team with 13 tackles in the game, explained what he and the defensive leaders told the unit as the prepared to face the final Hoosier drive. “Finish, finish,” Jones said.

“We seemed gassed in the third quarter, but we knew we needed to bring that bowl championship back to Oxford,” Jones added.

Hotty Toddy!

About The Author

Steve Barnes

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.

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