Stewart Stories

You found out yesterday what Cory Peterson did immediately after catching the two-point conversion pass from Stewart Patridge in the 1997 Battle for the Golden Egg.


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He went to the sideline and threw up. Only 25 seconds remained, and Ole Miss wound up winning 15-14.

So what did Patridge do? The Rebel quarterback went to the same sideline and sought out his head coach, Tommy Tuberville.

He told Tuberville, to paraphrase totally, that he was glad he had the "courage" to go for the win right then and not play for a win in overtime.

The Path Less Traveled

It was Patridge's senior season. His road to Ole Miss was an interesting one, to say the least. Like Bo Wallace now, Patridge had a national championship ring from junior college.

Patridge's dad, Jimmy, had suited up for the Maroon and White of Mississippi State back during his college years. Stewart's mother's sister's husband (get that? – his uncle), Watson Pillow, also played at MSU.

In another twist, Patridge's maternal grandfather signed with Ole Miss to play for John Vaught. But Vaught had a policy during his coaching career that players could not be married. It cost him some players. It cost him Morgan City High's Dibrell Strain, Stewart Patridge's grandfather, who left Ole Miss to get married and raise a family.


Stewart Patridge
Ole Miss Athletics

"He played in the first football game he ever saw," Patridge said of his grandfather.

Stewart Patridge eventually became an Ole Miss quarterback. In Mississippi, being a member of that fraternity is special. In some cases, like when you are involved in a dramatic win over the Bulldogs, you move up to near legendary status.

Patridge said the transition to Rebel from Bulldog went as well as could be expected.

"It actually wasn't as bad as most folks might think. Here I was with a dad who had started at running back and had played in Egg Bowls. I grew up on the Bulldog side."

Things can change, though, and did. Patridge, from Pillow Academy in Greenwood, wound up playing for Ole Miss after leading Mississippi Delta to the junior college national championship.

"Nobody really recruited me out of high school," Patridge said of the "big" schools. "When I went to junior college and they decided I could play, I really hit it off with Coach (Billy) Brewer. My dad knew him from the high school all-star game. So there was some familiarity there.

"My best friend was an Ole Miss fan, so I had been to some games. I knew some other people there. Both (football) programs were about in the same position, and I knew I would have to beat somebody out either place."

He chose Ole Miss. Even his brother, Bailey, later wound up at Ole Miss, playing baseball. His parents were supportive and have season tickets to both schools even now. Ole Miss baseball tickets, too.

When Stewart first arrived at Ole Miss to play football, his aunt had hats made that said "Dogs for Patridge."

He points to his sibling as the potential starter of some good-natured ribbing.

"My brother is the argumentative one of the family," Stewart said of Bailey. "He can really get after (the MSU family members) this time of year."

Quarterbacks Do Bond

Patridge has known former Bulldog quarterback John Bond for a long time. He was one of Patridge's heroes growing up.

"The first time I played in the Kent Hull Make-A-Wish Foundation Golf Tournament, I think it was my senior year at Ole Miss. It was at Old Waverly," Patridge said. "I had met John when I went on my recruiting visit. He didn't forget me. He walked over to me and we talked. We've been good friends ever since."

When a former Mississippi State quarterback and a former Ole Miss quarterback are friends, there have to be some stories, right?

Right. And in this case throw in one from Alabama and one from Auburn for good measure.

Jay Barker, Stan White, John Bond, and Patridge gathered in Birmingham a few years ago to do a weekly TV show on Comcast Sports during football season. Patridge was still playing arena football at the time.

"John and I were driving from Birmingham back to Mississippi one of those weeks, and we were somewhere around Columbus. We got stopped by a highway patrolman. John was driving my vehicle.


Cory Peterson and the two-point catch to beat State in '97
Ole Miss Athletics

"So John gives him his driver's license and my insurance card. The highway patrolman was about my age. He looks at it and looks at it, he looks at us and looks at it again, and says ‘Is this some kind of joke?' We just sat there laughing. John did get us out of the ticket. We told the highway patrolman we actually do like each other."

Always A Battle

Tonight, however, all that matters are their alma maters. Just like always.

"I remember after I got through playing, and we went to the Egg Bowl (in Starkville), Walker Jones and Eli Anding went with us," Patridge said. "Of course, they don't like State at all. I thought between my brother and Walker and Eli, and my dad and mom, and we're sitting at the top of Scott Field, I'm thinking somebody's going to get thrown off of here."

It wouldn't have been unprecedented. Immediately after that most dramatic of wins in 1997, Jimmy Patridge tried to get down onto the field – Scott Field. The field he had played on for the Bulldogs. The field his son had just led the arch-rival to a headline victory on. To see his son and hug him, of course.

"Instead of trying to jump the fence, he tried to do the right thing and come down the stairs and through the gate," Stewart said. "He gets stopped by like four police officers. Todd Wade ran over there to me and said ‘hey, your dad's about to whip these cops. You'd better do something.' Mr. Anding, Eli's dad, gets a snapshot of it. We blew it up and gave it to him for Father's Day."

There had actually been a fight between the two teams before the game even started that day. As warmups were going on, things got out of hand. Defensive stalwart Greg Favors of State had been in Patridge's face all game long a year before in a 17-0 MSU win in Oxford on a rain-soaked field.

"I think Favors had six and a half sacks that day. State had 12 and a half," Patridge said, recalling the numbers like they were last season and not 17 years ago. "Paul Lacoste hit me late out of bounds and I slid all the way under the bench. I was thinking this might be the safest place I've been all day long."

The following year, Favors and Patridge met again.

"I'm walking out of the locker room and I see this fight breaking out. I see John Avery about to get thrown around, so I run over there. Who grabs me? Greg Favors. I'm thinking he's going to get me out of the game this year before it ever starts."

At the final horn, there was no fight. Not even one involving Jimmy Patridge, who was just trying to get onto Scott Field to see his son.

"Luckily, Coach (Joe) Pannunzio was right there at the end of the game and handed my dad a pass and let him come onto the field," Stewart said.

It was a game for the ages as far as Ole Miss is concerned. Patridge still thanks Tuberville for going for the win in regulation.

"Everybody was tired, just worn out," Patridge said. "We knew we were going to have to win it sooner or later. We said we might as well go ahead and win it now."

And so they did.


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