Wallace Impresses

Sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace wasn't nervous heading into Ole Miss' season-opening game against Central Arkansas.

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Surprising, actually. Wallace expected some butterflies Saturday night. He's battled nerves and anxiety before games ever since he strapped on a helmet for the first time in 6th grade.

"I've waited so long to get this chance," Wallace said. "Just trying to make every chance I get count."

He made the most of his chances Saturday.

He stayed calm. "Probably as calm as I've ever been in a game," he said, his team having wrapped a 49-27 win. Wallace, who started the game, had an impressive debut, finishing 20 of 24 for 264 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

The interception came one play after Ole Miss recovered a fumble near its own goal line, halting a UCA scoring chance in the first quarter. Wallace's pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Bear linebacker Seth Allison, setting up a tying score.

Central Arkansas led 20-14 at halftime.

"It's tough throwing a pick," Wallace said. "But it's a tipped ball, something crazy happens. That's going to happen in a football game. You've just got to bounce back the next drive and take the team down the field."

He had little trouble the rest of the way.

Wallace not only produced in the air, but on the ground, leading the team in rushing with 82 yards on 13 carries. He even scored the team's first points of the season with a 25-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter.

"I'm going to take whatever they give me. If we have a read-option and they squeeze, I'm definitely going to pull it," Wallace said. "I'm not afraid to run the ball at all. When we're down 20-14, he doesn't care if I'm running or throwing it. We're just trying to put points on the board."

Wallace was named Ole Miss' starting quarterback Thursday after a fierce, four-month-long battle with junior Barry Brunetti.

Brunetti was productive as well Saturday. He completed 5 of 7 passes for 66 yards and one touchdown. On the ground, he had 54 yards and one touchdown on eight carries.

But it was Wallace who was the story.

First-year head coach Hugh Freeze said postgame Wallace has earned another start against UTEP, the Rebels' next opponent, Sept. 8.

"Bo started this game, and he'll start the next one," he said. "But I'm not ready to say that Barry's out of it. I thought Barry did some really nice things, too. But certainly Bo had a great game and I've always known he's a gamer. I thought he played well.

"Bo had a couple of bad reads, but I was pleased with both of them. I thought his numbers were really good. Except for that tipped pass, he protected the ball, which is the most important thing."

Wallace's touchdown throws were of 53 yards and 25 yards. On both passes, he was facing pressure with hands in his face. The 53-yarder was completed to sophomore wide receiver Donte Moncrief, between two defenders, in the third quarter.

The score gave Ole Miss a 28-20 lead.

"When I threw it, I kind of second guessed myself," Wallace said of the throw. "Luckily, it got there in time, and Donte does what he does after he catches it. (The safety) was real close. Like, if something would've happened, I would've gotten an ear full on the sideline."

But the pass was complete, and just another notch in the belt of an impressive night.

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