BY PARRISH ALFORD
OXFORD - Forty-five points will usually win a football game in any league.
Ole Miss players had a hard time taking any satisfaction in their performance Saturday night, however, since they gave up 49 points and lost when Texas Tech scored the game-winning touchdown with 1 minute, 4 seconds to play.
Talk afterward centered not on the 409 passing yards by Eli Manning, the 157 receiving yards by Mike Espy or the 152 rushing yards by four tailbacks who averaged a collective 6.08 yards per carry.
The theme instead was how to correct mistakes that have occurred regularly since the season began - and some that appeared for the first time.
Ole Miss, the least penalized team in the Southeastern Conference last year, was flagged eight times for 71 yards. Many of the penalties contributed to the lack of touchdown production in a game where kicker Jonathan Nichols set a school record and tied an SEC record with six field goals.
The Rebels began the night averaging 57.3 penalty yards a game, up 10 yards from the 2002 season.
A holding penalty by center Justin Sawyer wiped out a Manning touchdown pass to Chris Collins. A personal foul against guard Marcus Johnson came when the Rebels had a first down at the Texas Tech 12.
Both drives ended in field goals. Nichols hit 6-of-6 attempts, but his longest was 39 yards.
"We knew they were going to go out and score," tailback Tremaine Turner said. "They weren't looking at kicking field goals."
The red zone meltdown was a new problem for the Rebels. Ole Miss went into the game as the SEC's second-best team inside the opponent's 20, having scored 10 touchdowns in 15 opportunities.
The new problem blended with an old one - pass defense - to help bring down the Rebels. Texas Tech receivers often ran free in the Ole Miss secondary. Even when covered, they made big catches.
Tech quarterback B.J. Symons completed 69 percent of his passes (44-for-64) and rarely felt the heat of an Ole Miss rush. His 661 passing yards were third-most in the history of major college football.
One time when the Rebels did hurry Symons - with pressure applied by end Charlie Anderson - the result was an interception returned 80 yards for a touchdown by strong safety Kelvin Robinson.
"Our philosophy was to try and get some hits on him, and we did a very poor job of that," defensive coordinator Chuck Driesbach said. "I don't know if we ever did get a whack on him."
Anderson was later credited with Ole Miss's only sack.
There were lots of notable numbers despite the loss:
n Manning's 409 passing yards marked the second 400-yard game of his career and was the fourth-highest single-game total in school history. He has thrown for 1,054 yards in the last three games.
n Redshirt freshman tailback Jamal Pittman appeared in a game earlier than at any time this season. He ran for 43 yards on eight carries (5.4 ypc) with a long run of 16 yards.
n Espy's 157 receiving yards were a career-high and the sixth-highest total in school history.
n Nichols set a game kick-scoring record of 21 points, breaking the mark of 16 points set by Brian Lee in 1991 and Walter Grant in 1993.
n Chris Collins had four receptions, giving him 146 for his career, another school record.
The numbers provided little consolation.
"The whole team is frustrated," Manning said. "Nobody likes losing. Nobody likes playing hard and not coming out with a win. We can't settle for field goals. We have to rely on our offense to get the ball in the end zone."