CATEGORY: FOC College Football
HED:Rebs survive late rally for win
By Todd Vinyard
OXFORD - After a season of great comeback wins, Ole Miss had to thwart one to jump back in the Southeastern Conference Western Division title hunt.
The Rebels led 31-10 in the fourth quarter, before withstanding a 21-point run by LSU to win 37-31 in overtime. Besides a confidence boost, Ole Miss (6-2 overall, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) becomes bowl eligible going into the season's final three games. Unlike a 22-point comeback win at Southern Methodist, Ole Miss had to hang on for dear life with Cory Peterson's juggling 25-yard touchdown catch in overtime.
"Nobody gave us a chance in this game or the SEC West," Peterson said."Now we've won and we're back in the division race. We got our sixth win, but we want more. We've got Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi State, and we want them all."
Peterson's gave the 50, 577 fans, a record on campus crowd in Mississippi, at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium an unforgettable moment. Peterson hauled in a Romaro Miller pass at the 6-yard line in the middle of the field was hit at the one. Person lost the ball,which went straight up about three feet. It landed safely in his chest in the end zone for a score from 25 yards. LSU deflected Carlisle McGee's point after keep Ole Miss' lead at six points.
"Romaro threw me a bullet," said Peterson, who had 147 yards receiving on five catches and two touchdowns. "I tried to dive in the end zone, and the guy hit me, and the ball came loose for a second, but it came right back down in my lap."
Running back Kevin Faulk and quarterback Herb Tyler worked the Tigers down to the 4. Tyler picked Ole Miss' defense part, as he completed 22 of 39 passes for 198 yards while rushing for 53 on 14 carries, just not when it counted most.
Tyler sprinted out and threw to the right side of the end zone for Larry Foster. Syniker Taylor was on target in the bullet defense by tipping the pass which fell incomplete giving the Rebels their second overtime win this season.
"I knew it was the last place and we would win or lose on it," Taylor said. "I got a hand on it. I didn't get enough of it to knock but I got enough to take his eyes off it. Then the ball hit him in the chest and I thought he caught it. But when the crowd roared I knew he hadn't and we had won."
LSU (4-4, 2-4) the preseason favorite in the West, fell out of contention. Arkansas, which Ole Miss visits next week, leads the division with a 4-0 record.
Ole Miss provided the punch line for coach Tommy Tuberville's question to the crowd over the JumboTron screen before the game of, "Are you ready?" The Rebels went 80 yards in 13 plays on their first drive, including two fourth-down conversions. The first came at Ole Miss' own 29, and then at its own 41. Deuce McAllister made both on runs of 3 and 5. Joe Gunn capped the drive with a 3-yard TD burst. Ole Miss led 7-0 with 8:32 remaining in the first quarter.
"We were going to go for anything a yard or closer," said Tuberville, whose team was 3-of-4 on fourth down. "We couldn't let them have the ball the whole half."
Ole Miss was the ball hog. Deuce McAllister rushed for 176 yards on 26 carries. Gunn 63 yards on 20 carries. Prior to this game the most yards LSU had given up on the ground was 76 to Mississippi State's James Johnson in a 41-6 win. McAllister had 102 yards at halftime.
"When they got the running game going, they really had us," LSU coach Gerry DiNardo said. "We were totally off balance."
Running set up Miller to complete 16 of 23 passes for 279 yards and four touchdowns. Three of the four touchdowns were down the middle including a 36-yard catch-and-run by Peterson in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead with 1:57 remaining.
An 18-yard punt and catching interference call put LSU in a short field scoring situation at the Ole Miss 30. Faulk closed out the drive with a 1-yard score.
Ole Miss answered back with a drive which ended in a 21-yard over the middle TD toss from Miller to Rufus French. McGee's extra point made it 21-7 at 7:05.
An LSU drive stalled, and Ole Miss, which had 497 total yards of offense, was on the march again with McAllister and Gunn. Miller finished things with a 23-yard strike to L.J. Taylor. Ole Miss led 28-7.
Tyler passed LSU down the field to set up a 34-yard Christian Chauvin field goal. Ole Miss led 28-10 at half.
McGee's career-long 41-yard field goal gave Ole Miss a 31-10 third quarter bulge. LSU, however, came storming back with the help of two Ole Miss turnovers. Tyler's 3-yard TD run cut the Ole Miss advantage to 31-17 with 9:37 to go.
Aaron Adams intercepted a Miller pass to set up Faulk's second 3-yard touchdown jaunt. LSU was within a touchdown at 31-24. A Gunn fumble on the next series kept LSU alive. The Tigers scored on Tyler's 1-yard pass to Rondell Mealey with two seconds left to tie things up.
Ole Miss pulled out a win in its typical never-easy fashion. But things could be easier now for the Rebels in the bowl situation.
"I think it takes the pressure off, hopefully we can keep the intensity up," Tuberville said. "We knew if we could win one of the last four we could go to a bowl. Winning the first one makes it easier."