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Gamer: No. 17 Ole Miss defeats No. 13 Arkansas, 52-51

Gamer: No. 17 Ole Miss defeats No. 13 Arkansas, 52-51

OXFORD, Miss.The popcorn was ready this week.

Actually, after Ole Miss took a 52-51 win over Arkansas — after the teams combined for 103 points and 1,281 yards in total offense — this game was not the discount store microwave brand of popcorn, this one was the keg of the hot-buttered, gourmet, movie-theatre brand that you have to take out a second mortgage to afford to buy.

Ole Miss took a seven-point lead late in the game, but the Razorbacks drove down the field and scored on the last play of regulation to pull to within one of the lead. Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman opted to go for the win and a K.J. Jefferson pass fell harmlessly to the ground as Ole Miss escaped with a win at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on homecoming.

“It was hectic at the end,” said QB Matt Corral.

Them having the ball in their hands. As an offense, you don’t like that..but it was a great game and a good team win for us.

QB Matt Corral

No. 17 Ole Miss improves to 4-1 (1-1 in the SEC) and 13th-ranked Arkansas falls to 4-2 (1-2).

It was a big game because it was the last game. We did our job…just treat it like any other game.

Matt Corral on the win

Matt Corral’s Heisman candidacy is alive and well after the junior completed 14-of-21 passes for two touchdowns and just missed another score by one yard. He also ran for 94 yards and could have easily had 100, but his last run was negated by a penalty.

Had that flag not been thrown, Ole Miss would have had three 100-yard rushers as Henry Parrish, Jr., ran for 111 and Snoop Conner added 110.

“I just did my job,” Conner said in the postgame press conference.

As a team, the Rebels ran for 324 to go along with Corral’s 287 yards through the air.

Defensively, although the Rebels gave up 51 points, three players had double-digits in tackles. Otis Reese finished with 11, while A.J. Finley and Keidron Smith had 10. Three linebackers had nine each.

After the Landsharks forced Arkansas to punt on its initial possession, Braylon Sanders took the kick on a bounce and ran it back along the right sideline 30 yards to set Ole Miss up at the Rebels’ own 41. But Ole Miss went three-and-out and had to punt the ball back to the Razorbacks.

Arkansas took over at its 18 and gained first downs on the first two plays of the drive. The Hogs needed two plays to gain their third first down of the drive and move into Ole Miss territory. The Razorbacks took a page from the Ole Miss script and converted a fourth down to continue the drive and that led to K.J. Jefferson scoring on a five-yard run. Cam Little’s kick gave the Hogs a 7-0 lead with 4:17 left in the first quarter.

On the ensuing drive, Ole Miss converted a fourth down – to continue to lead the nation in fourth down attempts and conversions – and then converted another to move into field-goal range. As the game moved into the second quarter, the Rebels converted a third fourth down to set up a first-and-goal.

From the 5, Corral bulled his way into the end zone but Caden Costa missed the conversion and Arkansas held onto a 7-6 lead.

The scoring drive covered 75 yards in 17 plays to Corral’s sixth rushing touchdown of the season.

Arkansas took the ball 75 yards on the next drive, aided by some poor tackling by the Rebels to a 14-yard scoring run by Trelon Smith and after the kick, the Razorbacks led 14-6.

After taking over on its own 17, Ole Miss dialed up the long ball as Corral hit Dontario Drummond, who was all alone behind the Hogs’ defense, and he ran into the end zone for a 67-yard touchdown. 

Corral bounced his way into the end zone for a two-point conversion and suddenly the game was tied at 14.

The Razorbacks were moving the ball easily until Chase Campbell ripped the ball from Raheem Sanders and fell on it to give Ole Miss possession at its own 27. 

Ole Miss took its first lead with less than a minute to go until halftime. The Rebels drove 68 yards in nine plays taking 2:39 off the clock to Corral’s second rushing touchdown of the day, this one from seven yards. Costa’s kick gave the Rebels a 21-14 lead they took into halftime.

The Rebels took the second-half kickoff and moved the ball into Arkansas territory where Costa nailed a 50-yard field goal to increase the lead to 24-14.

After surrendering 10-unanswered points, the Arkansas offense proved it was still potent on its next possession. It only took the Hogs nine plays to move 75 yards as the drive culminated in Jefferson’s three-yard pass to Trey Knox. The kick cut the Ole Miss lead to 24-21.

On the ensuing Ole Miss possession, the Rebels were stoned on a fourth-down attempt at their own 33 to give Arkansas a short field trailing only by three points.

Less than two minutes later after the Ole Miss defense stiffened, Little drilled a 31-yard field goal and the game was tied again at 24.

Three plays later, Snoop Conner made his presence felt as he took a handoff through the middle of the Arkansas defense and 51 yards later, the Hattiesburg native gave Ole Miss the lead again. Costa’s kick put the Rebels ahead 31-24.

It only took two circus catches, both for 37 yards, for the Razorbacks to knock on the door of the end zone again. Jefferson dove into the end zone on a six-yard run and the kick made it 31-31 at the end of third quarter.

After Ole Miss converted another fourth down on the next drive, Conner followed up his 51-yard score with a 34-yard touchdown run. And after the PAT, the Rebels led 38-31 early in the fourth period.

Four plays later and after a kick, the game was tied again. Treylon Burks took a short pass from Jefferson and turned it into a 20-yard touchdown in a drive that took just 1:52 to knot the score 38-38.

Ole Miss would not be upstaged. On its next drive, Corral found Sanders for a 59-yard gain to the Razorbacks’ one and Conner followed with his third rushing touchdown.

After Costa hit the conversion, the Rebels led again 45-38.

With 3:59 left, Arkansas took possession at its own 35 looking to tie the score. 

The Razorbacks would.

With 1:22 remaining, Jefferson slipped into the end zone from the 10 and it seemed the game was destined for overtime tied 45-45.

But Corral had other ideas.

Two plays into its next drive, Corral found Sanders streaking down the right sideline and a perfect pass fell into the receiver’s hands that turned into a 68-yard touchdown and the PAT had the Rebels ahead 52-45.

But Arkansas had other ideas as well.

On the last play in regulation, Jefferson found Warren Thompson from the 9 and it drew Arkansas to within one. But the Hogs decided to go for two and it failed to give the Rebs the win. 

Ole Miss now goes to Tennessee for a game with the Vols next week. 

(Feature image credit: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk)

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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