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Ole Miss upset bid falls short against No. 10 Arkansas

Addison Dent/The Daily Mississippian



The Ole Miss offense showed signs of improvement, but came up just short, as the Rebels (2-5, 0-4) fell to the Arkansas Razorbacks (6-1, 2-1) 29-24 on Saturday afternoon.

“I’m really proud of our guys’ effort today,” Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt said. “I thought we played extremely hard. I wish we had the third quarter back.

Nutt said the Rebels needed something to have happened in the third quarter to give them confidence.

“We needed to go ahead and finish it. We had some really good effort and attitude out there against a team ranked tenth. Their attitude has been awesome,” Nutt said. “I wish we were standing here with a win. We were close, but it didn’t happen.”

For the second week in a row, the Rebels struck first when junior Bryson Rose nailed a 43-yard field goal to give Ole Miss an early lead.

However, this week the Rebels stretched out their lead. Early in the second quarter, junior quarterback Randall Mackey connected with freshman wide receiver Donte Moncrief on a 31-yard touchdown pass in the back corner of the end zone.

Later in the quarter, Mackey took it in himself on a three-yard touchdown run to extend the Ole Miss lead to 17-0.

Arkansas finally put some points on the board right before the half on a 52-yard run from junior running back Dennis Johnson on a 3rd-and-long attempt to bring the halftime score to 17-7 in favor of Ole Miss.

Just like this past week against Alabama, the Rebels struggled coming out of halftime, as the Razorbacks dominated the third quarter in which they scored on three straight possessions to erase the Ole Miss lead.

“We came out and played hard the first half, but came out with two bad drives to start the second half,” Moncrief said. “We have to get better at keeping our heads up to play ball.”

The first score of the half came on a 33-yard field goal from sophomore Zach Hocker. On the next possession, junior quarterback Tyler Wilson led his team down the field and punched it into the end zone from one yard out to tie the game.

“We had them off balance the first half,” Nutt said. “They came out (in the) second half and took that away. We got off rhythm a little bit and dropped some balls. We had some illegal procedures.

“All we needed was one score. I feel like we needed one score to get our confidence up and make us think we were going to win. The biggest thing was the changes they made on our motions; the wide plays.”

On the next Arkansas drive, Wilson found senior wide receiver Joe Adams streaking down the sideline for a 67-yard gain inside the Ole Miss 10-yard line. After Green had a four-yard touchdown overturned and then Wilson was stopped short on the quarterback sneak, Wilson ran for a one-yard touchdown on fourth down to give the Razorbacks a 24-17 lead.

For the game, Wilson completed 13 of 28 passes for 232 yards with two touchdown runs.

The Hogs next possession had them in a prime scoring opportunity once again after a back-to-back long run and a personal foul penalty, but senior defensive tackle Justin Smith forced a Johnson fumble inside the Ole Miss five-yard line that was recovered by sophomore defensive back Charles Sawyer.

But the Rebels couldn’t take advantage. Two plays later, the Razorbacks tackled sophomore running back Jeff Scott for a loss in the end zone for a safety to give Arkansas a nine point advantage.

In the fourth quarter, the Rebels made it interesting as they held Arkansas to only a 23-yard field goal from the foot of Hocker.

Mackey used his feet to get the ball down the field and, eventually, found Moncrief for a four-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 29-24. Moncrief ended the day with five catches for 73 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

On the ensuing onside kick, junior tight end Jamal Mosley recovered the kick from junior Andrew Ritter and set Ole Miss up from their own 43-yard line with just over a minute left in the game.

However, a Mackey sack and interception ended the Rebels’ comeback. Despite the interception, Mackey finished the game with 219 yards and two touchdowns through the air on 18-of-30 passing, to go along with 30 rushing yards on 13 carries.

Now, the Rebels attention will turn to the Auburn Tigers. Kickoff next Saturday is set for 6 p.m. from Jordan-Hare Stadium and will be televised on ESPNU.

“We’re going to treat them just like another team and give them all we got,” Moncrief said.