Gamer: Ole Miss falls to State in Egg Bowl, 24-22
OXFORD, Miss. – In a game featuring one of the best rushing offenses in the country against an air-raid passing attack, of course it would come down to a defensive battle on a stormy night in north Mississippi.
Mississippi State’s defense made a couple of more plays than the Rebels to emerge from the Egg Bowl with a 24-22 win in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Each team finishes with identical 8-4 records during the regular season.
Kiffin was asked about his team’s 7-0 start that turned into an 8-4 finish.
“Lot tougher schedule. That would be part of it. It’s just the analytics of it. We really just had some games we didn’t put it together. Today the defense didn’t play great, but played well enough to win, for sure, and we played our worst offensive game of the year. The week before we played our worst defensive game of the year. We really kind of fell off after the Alabama game of playing consistent. That’s why you’ve got to keep playing. We still went 99 yards there. It gave us a chance. We make the two-point, we go into overtime.“
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin
The Ole Miss defense harassed MSU quarterback Will Rogers all game long, sacking him four times while forcing him to fumble once and throw an interception.
Conversely, Mississippi State kept the vaunted Rebel running game in check, holding Quinshon Judkins to only 87 yards, and as a team Ole Miss could only muster 74 on the ground.
As many plays as the defense made, Ole Miss had two on that side of the ball that fell by the wayside. After State’s Will Rogers fumbled while being sacked, Otis Reese seemed to be in position to pick up the ball and race into the end zone. But before he could quite secure the ball, a State player raced back into the play and took it from his hands.
Later, Miles Battle was in a perfect spot to intercept an out route and run it back for a score. Instead, somehow the pass got by his hand and resulted in a Bulldog completion.
Still, it was a classic Egg Bowl.
Ole Miss took the opening kickoff and using the passing attack. The Rebels moved into State territory, but the drive stalled and had to settle for a 32-yard Jonathan Cruz field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.
State answered the Ole Miss score quite quickly. It only took the Bulldogs 3:50 on the next drive to find themselves in the end zone thanks to a one-yard blast from Jo’quavious Marks. The conversion gave MSU a 7-3 advantage midway through the first quarter.
Later in the period, Ole Miss drove into Bulldogs’ territory by using a balanced attack. Again, however, the Rebels’ drive bogged down and Cruz came on to nail a 33-yard field goal to close the gap to 7-6.
That score held at the end of the first quarter.
Ole Miss had another nice drive to start the second period, but Jonathan Mingo dropped a potential-scoring pass and that led to another Cruz field goal, this one from 49 yards and the Rebels had a 9-7 lead.
Reese picked off a Rogers pass and the Rebels got into the red zone again on the ensuing possession late in the half, but this time Cruz was only needed for the conversion.
After driving 64 yards in 13 plays, Ole Miss faced a fourth-and-goal at the State 2. Instead of attempting another field goal, Lane Kiffin rolled the dice, and it paid off. Dart found defensive lineman JJ Pegues with a swing pass and the Oxford native cruised into the end zone and after the Cruz kick, Ole Miss led 16-7.
But State did not roll over. MSU moved the ball down the field in the final minute of the first half and it paid off with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Rogers to Lideatrick Griffin and after the kick, the halftime score stood at 16-14.
The two scoring drives from the Bulldogs were 61 and 75 yards. In between, the Ole Miss defense held State to just eight yards of total offense.
After scoring on the last drive of the first half, MSU took the second half kickoff and immediately got into Rebel territory. But the Ole Miss defense stiffened and was able to stop the Bulldogs on a fourth-down attempt to take possession.
Ole Miss could not take advantage as the rain clouds began to open and the Rebels had to punt.
State gave the ball right back after Rogers took a long sack from KD Hill and after an impressive Bulldog punt, the Rebels took over at their own 4. Again, the Ole Miss offense could not do anything against the MSU defense in the rain and after three plays had to punt it back to the Bulldogs.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, Tavius Robinson sacked Rogers and knocked the ball free and Cedric Johnson pounced on it and Ole Miss took over at the State 36.
A personal foul against State put the Rebels in business at the MSU 15 and soon after the Rebels found themselves in a fourth-and -two situation. But Dart’s pass fell incomplete and the Bulldogs held Ole Miss scoreless on the drive.
The Bulldogs took advantage and took the momentum. State methodically drove down field using up the rest of the third-quarter clock. Yet the 78-yard drive stalled and MSU had to settle for a 34-yard field goal to retake the lead, 17-16.
Mississippi State increased its lead on its next possession. Driving through the pouring rain, the Bulldogs were able to go 55 yards that culminated in a Rogers-to-Rara Thomas 22-yard scoring pass. The kick gave MSU an eight-point lead, 24-16, with less than eight minutes remaining.
A controversial call gave State the ball back in Rebels’ territory. A swing pass from Dart to Mingo fell to the ground and moments later, Mississippi State recovered it. The officials announced that an inadvertent whistle killed the play, but video review gave the Bulldogs the ball at the Ole Miss 29 with 7:15 left.
State got to the Ole Miss 1, but Rogers attempted to run the ball into the endzone, but Troy Brown knocked the ball loose from his arms and Robinson fell on it to give the Rebels another chance with less than five minutes on the clock.
Ninety-nine yards later, Dart found Dayton Wade behind the Bulldogs’ secondary for a 23-yard scoring strike to pull the Rebels to within a 2-point conversion to tie the game. The try failed and State maintained its lead, 24-22.
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.