A Win is a Win

If it's going to be a November to remember, this was at least a start.

The 43-21 win against Louisiana-Lafayette gives the Rebels four wins on the season with three Southeastern Conference games remaining.

At Tennessee, at LSU, and Mississippi State at home.

All could be winnable. But not necessarily the way Ole Miss has been or is playing.

Against the not so Ragin' Cajuns, who at 2-7 still have only half the number of wins this season as Ole Miss, the Rebels looked like the team it has much of the season. With two differences.

More than half the game the Rebels were led on offense by quarterback Nathan Stanley. And no points were given up by the defense in the second half along with fewer big plays on defense for the entire game. Now that is something to build on - along with the victory, of course.

The redshirt sophomore signal-caller, Stanley, came in after senior starter Jeremiah Masoli went out in the second quarter with a mild concussion. But a concussion is a concussion these days, no matter how mild. And precaution will forevermore rule in those type situations.

Carlos Thompson

Stanley got his most significant playing time in three seasons in Oxford. He was just 6 for 14 for 108 yards, but the Rebels kept it on the ground much of the evening. Ole Miss rushed for 298 yards on 50 carries and had 478 yards of total offense.

Masoli was 5 for 8 for 72 yards and a touchdown – to Brandon Bolden for 15 yards which, along with Bryson Rose's point after, made it 24-7 UM with 41 seconds to go in the first quarter.

The Rebels had spotted the Ragin' Cajuns seven points early and then scored 27 unanswered themselves.

Ole Miss, with a Rose field goal of 30 yards midway through the second quarter, appeared in complete control, up 27-7. And well they should.

But not this crazy season, not with its unpredictables of major magnitude and long plays given up by Ole Miss time and time again.

No, the guys from south Louisiana got right back in it. A 3-yard run by quarterback Brad McGuire capped a six-play drive of 74 yards and brought the visitors to within 13 points at 27-14.

And as the Rebels looked to all the world like they were about to rebuild their advantage, in the words of ESPN's Lee Corso, "not so fast, my friends."

They had started a drive at their own 25 and gotten it all the way down to the UL-L 4-yard line. But on second and goal, Rodney Scott fumbled the football, and an alert Melvin White scooped and scored – yes, raced that thing all the way to the Rebels' end zone, 93 yards away from where he had lifted it off the ground. The point after by Bret Baer pulled the Cajuns to with six points at 27-21 with 31 ticks left before intermission.

Brandon Bolden

Same Ole Miss in 2010. Or so it seemed.

As quickly as they had given up a score, the Rebels moved downfield for some security points before halftime. Martez Eastland raced nearly 40 yards on the kickoff return to the UL-L 28. A pass inteference play later got them to the 15. They then called on – you guessed it – Rose again, this time from 30 yards as time expired to make it Rebs 30, Cajuns 21 at the break.

The Rebels needed the lift and the more than a touchdown advantage heading into the locker room.

Two more Rose field goals – late in the third of 27 yards and early in the fourth of 20 yards – pushed the lead out to 36-21. But with this year's version of Ole Miss football, who knew if that would be enough?

It was, and the margin of victory even widened with a minute left when Bolden took it in from the 3-yard line and Rose added his last points of the game.

Speaking of Rose, the Rebels' placekicker had 19 points in the contest - five field goals and four extra points.

The Rebs had two 100-yard rushers in a game for the first time since 1999 when two fairly good players – Deuce McAllister and Joe Gunn – each toted the pigskin for more than the century mark against Georgia. In this one, Bolden had 136 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns, while Enrique Davis had 116 yards on 19 carries.

Ole Miss takes its 4-5 record and 1-4 SEC mark to Knoxville now. It isn't where the Rebs wanted to be record-wise, and it's where only a few thought they might be.

If they go back and win the Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt games, they're 6-3 and thinking about a pretty good bowl again. They're not happy with three straight losses to ranked Alabama, Arkansas, and Auburn teams, but those teams are all better than the Rebels this season.

But JSU and the Commodores both took victories back home from Oxford.

The Rebels could be 6-3 and 2-3, as difficult as things have gone all season long.

But they aren't.

There have been injuries aplenty, and youth has had to step up. Maybe it's amazing they even still have a shot.

But they do, and they move on from here, looking for that next November to remember.

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