OXFORD, Miss. (WCBI/Ole Miss Athletics) — Ole Miss head football coach Hugh Freeze received a Gatorade bath and the Ole Miss faithful stood and cheered the team on in appreciation. After 16 long games, the Rebels finally snapped their Southeastern Conference losing skid Saturday with a 41-20 win over Auburn (1-5, 0-4 SEC) on Homecoming at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
The win was a long time coming for Ole Miss (4-3, 1-2 SEC), as the Rebels snapped a skid that stretched back to Oct. 2, 2010. Ole Miss played an inspired game Saturday in front of 57,068 fans, and drew praise from their head coach.
“Obviously words really cannot describe the feeling in that locker room and in the stadium,” Freeze said. “For the better part of two and a half years the Rebel fans and students and players and administration have had to put up with some disappointing times. We’re not there yet, nor do we think we are, but today we were. We were good enough in four quarters to win an SEC game. We’re sure we sound overly emotional, but one of the things our staff wants so badly to give to the Rebel fans is some good times. I know that they’re going to enjoy the Grove today, and that makes it a special weekend for me.”
Ole Miss junior running back Jeff Scott paced the Ole Miss offense with 207 all-purpose yards and one touchdown. Scott ran for 137 yards – one yard shy of his career high – on 21 carries, and had three catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. Scott’s 70 receiving yards were a career high, and his 55-yard touchdown catch was the first touchdown reception of his career.
Scott wasn’t the only star on offense for the potent Rebels attack. Quarterback Bo Wallace scored in just about every way for Ole Miss. The sophomore had his first receiving touchdown, two rushing touchdowns and threw for a score as well.
“He was 17 for 22 and protected the football and also ran a couple of touchdowns,” Freeze said. “We had talked about improving things we were not doing well, and I think he’s making strides in the right direction.”
Ole Miss had a fantastic start to the game Saturday afternoon. The Rebels capped off a nine-play, 80-yard drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass from senior running back Randall Mackey to Wallace. Wallace tossed the ball back to Mackey who ran to his right before stopping and throwing across the field to a streaking Wallace down the left sideline. It was the first touchdown reception of Wallace’s career.
One week after forcing six turnovers against Texas A&M, the Ole Miss defense stepped up again with a fumble recovery and an interception.
Just 1:35 after Wallace’s touchdown reception, sophomore defensive end C.J. Johnson recovered an Auburn fumble off a hike that sailed over Auburn quarterback Clint Moseley’s head and into the end zone. Despite having the ball for exactly eight fewer minutes than Auburn in the first quarter, Ole Miss led 14-0.
The Rebels went into the halftime break on a positive note, as kicker Bryson Rose nailed a 28-yard field goal as time expired and the two teams went into the break knotted at 17 points apiece.
The Rebels opened the second half similarly to the first half, with an impressive four-play, 73-yard touchdown drive highlighted by a gorgeous 40-yard pass from Wallace to Ja-Mes Logan in between two Auburn defensive backs. Wallace capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
After each team tacked on field goals, Scott put the Rebels up by 14 points with a 55-yard touchdown reception in which he rolled over an Auburn defender, got up and ran into the end zone. Scott’s acrobatic touchdown gave Ole Miss a 34-20 lead with 5:02 left in the game.
“We’ll just call that touchdown Jesus,” Freeze said. “But that’s what you do. You play until the whistle blows, and that’s what he did.”
Ole Miss gained possession again when junior linebacker Mike Marry picked off a Moseley pass and returned it 38 yards to the Auburn 31-yard line. The interception by Marry was the first of his career.
Wallace put the proverbial nail in the coffin for Ole Miss with a hard-nosed two-yard run into the end zone in which he dragged multiple Auburn defenders. The Rebels’ 41 points were their most points scored in the series against Auburn since 1992.
“We need to get a couple more wins to get bowl eligible and that is what we are focused on,” Wallace said.