LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Ole Miss kicker Bryson Rose hit a 31-yard field goal as time expired to give the Rebels a 30-27 win over Arkansas early Saturday afternoon in War Memorial Stadium.
Down 27-20 with 3:07 remaining in the game, Arkansas lined up at their own 45-yard line for their final possession of the game. On second-and-one from the Ole Miss 46-yard line, Razorback tailback Dennis Johnson weaved his way through the Rebel defense for a 21-yard pickup down to the 25-yard line. He then powered his way for a 20-yard pickup to set up first-and-goal at the five-yard line and then went untouched up the middle for a touchdown with 2:09 remaining in the game to tie it 27-27 following the extra point.
"The good thing is they fought back, and with a couple of minutes to go we take it on down. Dennis did a great job of hanging in there and continuing to battle and running as hard as he could," Razorback interim head coach John L. Smith said after the game.
The problem was that Arkansas left Ole Miss too much time. The whole Ole Miss offense is a two-minute drill, and Arkansas put Bo Wallace and the Rebels right in their comfort zone. Arkansas did force the Rebels into a third-and-nine at their own 38. The Hogs brought heat, and Wallace hit tailback Jeff Scott underneath for a 14-yard pickup into Arkansas territory at the 48-yard line. He hit him again on a similar pattern on the next play for nine more. Then Wallace went to receiver Randall Mackey on a screen for 12 before taking it up the middle himself on a 13-yard run to the 14. Ole Miss called for a timeout with three seconds left to play before Rose lined up for the field goal to give the Rebels the 30-27 win.
"We fought back and battled, battled, battled. Just didn't make quite enough plays," Smith said. "We did come after them, and that actually worked the best for us when we did pressure them. We had a lot of things called, but they're going to spread it and they're going to get rid of the ball. Anytime you spread that many people out you have to put people out there to cover them."
Rose hit three field goals on the day, also hitting a 54- and 27-yarder. Wallace finished 29 of 37 passing (78.4 percent) for 278 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also chipped in 11 rushes for 38 yards (3.5 yards per carry). Wallace hit Donte Moncrief eight times for 60 yards (7.5 yards per catch) and found Mackey seven times for 99 (14.1 ypc). Scott was the leading Rebel rusher with 21 carries for 50 yards (2.4 ypc) and a score.
"Our team grew up some today," Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said. "Won on the road in this tough conference against a very good football team.
"For our team to fight, continue to battle, go down 10-0 and come back to take the lead, make good plays and tie it up. We were very poised."
Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson, who battled through what appears to be a bruised hip, finished 24 of 43 passing (55.8 percent) for 297 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
"Tyler made enough plays for us to win," Smith said. "He stayed in there and battled. He got hit sometimes early on. I don't know what it is but he stayed in there and battled from the very beginning. I don't know what it was, a bruised hip or something like that, but he's out there limping and just battling away."
Johnson became the first Arkansas player this season to top 100 yards rushing as he carried 27 times for 161 yards (6.0 ypc) with a touchdown. Johnson would not be denied on Arkansas' final possession of the game.
"I told myself we are not going to lose this game. If they put the ball in my hands, I'm going to do everything I can to win," Johnson said. "My performance was good, but it wasn't good enough to win."
Cobi Hamilton continued his impressive streak in Little Rock with 12 receptions for 146 yards (12.2 ypc).
"We just didn't finish well and rand out of time," Hamilton said. "I feel like I could always do better with us losing. You can feel good about your numbers, but you have to do better and focus on next week."
Arkansas put up 464 yards of total offense, including 297 through the air and 167 on the ground. Ole Miss put up just 355 yards with 278 passing and 77 rushing. The Hogs were hit 12 times for 70 yards in penalties, compared to five for 33 for Ole Miss.
Arkansas lost the special teams battle as Ole Miss hit three field goals and twice pinned the Hogs inside the five yard line on kickoffs. Arkansas also forced a turnover but went three-and-out and then had the punt blocked.
"We get a turnover, we go three-and-out, and then we get a punt block," Smith said. "That to me was crucial. You get a punt blocked, and there's over a 90 percent chance you're going to lose, and I take that very personal, so if there's anybody to blame it's me."
Razorback receiver Brandon Mitchell did not make the trip due to a violation of team rules. Tight end Chris Gragg appeared to reinjure his knee in the first half after missing three-and-a-half games with a bruised knee and leg. Gragg caught three passes for 55 yards (18.3 ypc), including a 42-yard touchdown before going down.
"It's a team rule," Smith said. "The decision was made not to bring him. It was made on Friday."
The loss moves the Razorbacks, a preseason top-10 team, to just 3-5 (2-3 SEC) on the season and in real danger of missing a bowl game. Arkansas must win three of the next four games against Tulsa and nationally ranked opponents South Carolina and Mississippi State on the road before finishing out the season at home against nationally ranked LSU.
Freeze, in his first year at Ole Miss, appeared to have a major rebuilding project on his hands prior to the season, but the Rebels are now 5-3 (2-2 SEC) and need just one more win to become bowl eligible. They head to Georgia next week before getting Vanderbilt at home, heading to LSU and facing Mississippi State in Oxford for the Egg Bowl.
The Rebels moved from their own 25 to their 39 before running into a third-and-nine after an incomplete Wallace pass. The Rebels punted to Arkansas to the UA 25-yard line, and a holding penalty moved the Razorbacks back to the 15 with 9:08 to go in the first quarter.
The Rebel hurry-up moved all the way down to the Arkansas 30-yard line with 3:27 to play in the third quarter before Wallace bobbled the handoff to Mackey, and Arkansas defensive tackle Jared Green recovered at the UA 31-yard line. Arkansas went three-and-out, thanks in large part to a false start on third-and-six by Alvin Bailey that left the Hogs in a much tougher third-and-11 situation. Dylan Breeding punted the Rebels to their 42-yard line after a short 33-yard punt and a five-yard return with 2:34 remaining in the opening quarter.
With 13:47 to play in the half, on Ole MIss' third possession, Wallace engineered an eight-play, 58-yard touchdown drive that took 3:47 off the game clock. The Rebels only ran into one third down, a third-and-three at the Razorback four-yard line. From there, Wallace hit Sanders in the corner of the end zone on a wrong-shoulder throw against Arkansas' Tevin Mitchel for the score. The extra point pulled the Rebels to within three points, 10-7.
On Arkansas' fourth possession, after converting two third downs and moving to the Ole Miss 39-yard line, Wilson went deep with 11:18 remaining in the half but was intercepted by Ole Miss' Charles Sawyer at the five-yard line, but five plays later at the 9:46 mark, Arkansas Byran Jones hit Wallace arm, and he was intercepted at the 34-yard line by Hog safety Ross Rasner.
The Hogs were hit with an intentional grounding penalty that put them in second-and-23, and they were not able to recover, going three-and-out. Breeding's punt was blocked by Sawyer with 9:05 to play in the half, and he scooped it and returned it to the Arkansas 22-yard line to set up Ole Miss' fifth possession. Four plays later, after a 13-yard Wallace run and an eight-yard Scott run to set up third-and-goal at the UA one-yard line, Barry Brunetti lined up at quarterback and took it in for the touchdown. The extra point put the Rebels ahead 14-10 with 7:44 to play in the half. The drive took 1:21 off the game clock.
Arkansas took the lead back on their sixth drive when Wilson found a wide-open Alex Voelzke in the middle of the end zone for a six-yard touchdown. The drive started way back at the UA five-yard line when Johnson fielded the kickoff with his knee on the ground. Johnson later converted a third-and-nine at the six with a 17-yard run and a third-and-one at the at the UA 32-yard line with a two-yard run. Williams put Arkansas in Ole Miss territory with an 18-yard run to the 48. Arkansas' next third down conversion attempt went short, but on fourth-and-three at the Rebel 41-yard line, Wilson hit Hamilton for 28 yards down to the 13-yard line. It was Hamilton's seventh catch of the day for 94 yards. The next play, a short pass to Gragg left the tight end coming up holding his left knee, which kept him out of the last three-and-a-half games. Wilson hit Voelzke on the next play to put the Hogs up 17-14 with 1:21 to play in the game. The 13-play drive covered 95 yards and took 6:23 off the game clock.
Ole Miss quickly answered right back after Wallace hit Mackey for 20 yards to the Ole Miss 47, Mackey for 18 to the Arkansas 35 and Sanders for eight yards to the Arkansas 27 before a timeout with 45 seconds to play. Out of the timeout, Scott made a 16-yard run to the Arkansas 11. Arkansas corner Will Hines was then hit with a pass interference call in the end zone. By rule, Ole Miss is given a first down at the two-yard line. Brunetti at quarterback picked up a yard, and Ole Miss called a timeout with 28 seconds remaining. Out of the Wildcat, Brunetti handed to Scott but did not score. Ole Miss' final timeout came with 24 seconds left in the half, third-and-goal at the one-yard line. Scott took the handoff around the right side and got in for a touchdown with 20 seconds remaining, giving Ole Miss back the lead 21-17 following the extra point. The drive covered 75 yards in 10 plays and took just 1:01 off the game clock.
Ole Miss came out of the halftime break and went three-and-out when Wallace' pass attempt fell short of the mark. The Hogs took over with 13:19 to play in the quarter at their own 13-yard line after a 33-yard punt hit the turf and rolled 20 more yards.
Another intentional grounding penalty on Arkansas left them in a difficult second-and-17, and the Hogs were only able to make it fourth-and-four at their own 48-yard line. Breeding's punt sailed just 25 yards out of bounds to the Ole Miss 26 with 10:16 to play in the third quarter. Ole Miss went three-and-out after a pass on a crossing pattern was too hot for Scott on third-and-seven at the UM 29-yard line. Arkansas took over with 8:57 to play in the third quarter at the UA 41-yard line following a 31-yard Jim Broadway punt, but the Hogs went three-and-out.
Arkansas stopped the Rebels after five plays when Ole Miss could not convert a third-and-two at their own 35-yard line. Broadway's 40-yard punt was fielded at the UA 25-yard line with 5:38 to play in the third quarter. Arkansas went three-and-out, but it wasn't because of a punt. Wilson was intercepted on third-and-two by Nkemdiche at the 50-yard line, and he returned it 32 yards to the Arkansas 18-yard line with 4:04 to play in the third quarter.
On a reverse, Mackey was hit with an intentional grounding penalty that left the Rebs in a second-and-25 at their own 33 for their 10th possession. Wallace' next pass was incomplete, leaving Ole Miss in a third-and-33. Wallace found Sanders streaking across the field for a 23-yard pickup to the 10-yard line, but it still left Ole Miss in a fourth-and-two. Rose' 27-yard field goal attempt was good, giving the Rebels a 24-17 lead with 3:20 to play in the third quarter. The drive covered eight yards in four plays and took 44 seconds off the clock.
Arkansas had a nice drive going, but it ended in some controversy. The Hogs lined up for a trick play. Offensive tackle David Hurd lined up wide to make it look like he was an eligible receiver, but the formation is designed so he is not eligible and is nothing more than a decoy. However, the wide receiver on the end was lined up too far off the line, so the Hogs had five men in the backfield. The Razorbacks moved down to the 14-yard line, but a delay of game and a false start penalty made a 31-yard field goal try a 41-yarder. Hocker knocked the field goal through anyway to pull it closer, 24-20 Rebels with 13:23 to play in the game.
Ole Miss moved down to the Arkansas 25-yard line on a third-and-eight, but an illegal substitution penalty was followed by a Rasner six-yard sack. Rose then lined up for a 53-yard field goal attempt on fourth-and-19 and made it to put the Rebels up by a touchdown, 27-20, with 10:06 remaining in the game.
Arkansas answered with a three-and-out and punted Ole Miss to their own 35-yard line with 8:32 remaining in the game. The Rebels came back with a three-and-out of their own when they were left in a fourth-and-one at their own 41-yard line. A penalty backed them up to their 36, and Broadway's punt went 41 yards to the Arkansas 23-yard line with 6:32 to play in the game.
Arkansas opened their 13th drive on fire. Wilson hit Julian Horton for 12, then Hamilton for 21. Then the Hogs were it with a false start, leaving them in a second-and-10. After another incompletion, Wilson was hit with a delay of game, making it third-and-21. On that play, tackle Jason Peacock was beaten by Ole Miss end C.J. Johnson for a sack, making it fourth-and-27 before Peacock shoved him when the ball was dead and was hit with a personal foul. Breeding's punt got a good roll and the Rebels started their 13th drive at their own 26-yard line, up 27-20 with 4:43 remaining in the game.
Ole Miss had a chance to seal it there, but they only went backwards. Scott ran for no yards, Chris Smith sacked Wallace for a five-yard loss, and Rasner got in the backfield for a five-yard loss on Scott, leaving Ole Miss in a fourth-and-20 at their own 16 with 3:16 remaining in the game. Keante Minor muffed the punt for Arkansas, but it went out of bounds and the Hogs retained possession.
Arkansas took over, first-and-10, at their own 45-yard line with 3:07 remaining in the game, down by a touchdown. Wilson hit Hamilton on a comeback for nine yards. Then Johnson weaved his way through the Rebel defense for a 21-yard pickup down to the Rebel 25-yard line. Next, Dennis powered his way, dragging defenders, for a 20-yard pickup to set up first-and-goal at the five-yard line. Johnson then went into the end zone untouched for a five-yard touchdown with 2:09 remaining in the game, and the extra point tied it up at 27-27. The four-play drive covered 55 yards and took 58 seconds off the clock.
The final Ole Miss drive started with 2:09 remaining in the game. The Hogs put them in a third-and-nine situation at their own 38. The Hogs brought heat, and Wallace hit Scott underneath for a 14-yard pickup into Arkansas territory at the 48-yard line. He hit him again on a similar pattern on the next play for nine more. Then Wallace went to Mackey on a screen for 12 before taking it up the middle himself on a 13-yard run to the 14. Ole Miss called for a timeout with three seconds left to play before Rose lined up and made a 31-yard field goal to give Ole Miss a 30-27 win over the Hogs as time expired. The eight-play drive covered 61-yards and took 2:09 off the clock.