House of Horrors

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Three times in the last 10 years (2002, 2004 and 2006), Ole Miss has been walloped inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Saturday was almost déjà vu all over again.

The Rebels were taken to the woodshed early by head coach Houston Nutt's former team, before bouncing back late. Arkansas raced out to a 21-0 lead on a 97-yard punt return by Joe Adams midway through the second quarter, and didn't look back, finishing off a 38-24 win.

"Just makes you sick," Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt said.

Historically, Fayetteville has been a town of horrors for Ole Miss. Saturday was no different.

Ole Miss turned the ball over only once, but dropped passes and an ineffective running game behind a patchwork offensive line put the team in a deep, 21-3 halftime deficit. The Rebels had 512 yards of total offense, relying mostly on senior quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who finished with 425 yards, the second-highest total in program history.

"It was a tough day today," Masoli said. "You have to give Arkansas a lot of credit. They had a good game plan against us; kind of stopped us in the first half. We didn't give up. I'm proud of my guys for fighting until the end."

Outside of an interception by Allen Walker on Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett's first pass attempt, there was little for Ole Miss to hang its hat on defensively. The Rebels surrendered big play after big play, including an Arkansas three-play scoring drive of 80 yards in the deciding first half.

Even worse, Saturday was, by far, the worst game of the season for Ole Miss' leaky special teams unit.

Markeith Summers

"Can't give up big plays," Nutt said. "We've got to do a better job of, when we do have opportunities, to score and to execute. We didn't do that."

Sans a strong second-half offensive performance, Ole Miss had its problems in all three phases – a recipe for disaster. Or, put simply, the reasoning behind yet another road loss more one-sided than the scoreboard would indicate.

"It's very frustrating," Masoli said. "That's one word that describes today. We left so many yards out there. We had 500 yards of total offense, but only scored 24 points. There's something wrong somewhere, where we're not executing to get the ball in the end zone. That's what we need to do."

The Rebels again struggled to move the ball in the first half, mirroring their loss to Alabama a week ago. They almost doubled Arkansas in plays (41-22) but failed to gain even equal yardage (189-145). Ole Miss tried multiple running backs in the frame, the leading rusher Jeff Scott with 19 yards on six carries.

Scott's halftime totals were aided by an 11-yard rush.

"It was a tough day today," Masoli said. "You have to give Arkansas a lot of credit. They had a good game plan against us; kind of stopped us in the first half."

Ole Miss battled back in the second half, even pulling within seven at 24-17 after the first of two delays due to inclement weather. But two plays later, Arkansas had an answer. Knile Davis, on a routine run up the middle, outran the Ole Miss defense for 71 yards and a touchdown.

Another big play allowed. Another busted assignment. More missed tackles. And, again, at the worst possible time.

"It's real frustrating," Walker said. "Ever since Coach Nutt's been here, this has been the turning point in our year. My mindset is we've just got to come in tomorrow and get to work."

The game got interesting with nine minutes left, as Masoli found Markeith Summers from 22 yards out for another score. Summers made the catch of his career, snagging the ball at its highest point, in coverage, to bring his team back within seven.

But Knile Davis answered again, this time with a 22-yard touchdown run.

"I just got to give the credit to Arkansas," Walker said. "The closer we got, the more they kept fighting. I guess we were expecting them to let go of the rope, but they didn't. Hats off to them."

The game ended in fitting fashion. Ole Miss marched to the Arkansas 1-yard line, but senior running back Brandon Bolden fumbled the snap out of the wild rebel formation. Arkansas landed on the fumble, virtually ending the game.

"I saw an opening," Bolden, who had just nine yards rushing on 11 carries, said. "I thought I could just get the snap, hurry and hit it. My gloves were wet. I just dropped the ball. I couldn't get on it fast enough. Just lost it."

Turnovers. Missed opportunities. Blown assignments. Worst of all, another loss for a team that can ill-afford many more.

"It's very frustrating," Bolden said. "Words can't describe it."

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