COLUMN: The Perfect Day

It was one of those days out of a fairy tale. Then it became one of those days that goes down in Ole Miss athletic history, with a 23-17 come-from-behind win over #3 Alabama before a jam-packed Vaught-Hemingway Stadium

When the sun rose around 6 a.m. on Saturday morning, it was a day kissed and blessed by the Lord Himself.

Perfect for football, perfect for tailgating, perfect to display the Grove on ESPN College Game Day, perfect to be a Rebel.

The Game Day band of Rebels were rowdy, but well-behaved. The signs they sported were as good as it gets.

"Katy Perry is hot, but I have five just like her in my math class."

"You better get a bigger boat," with a huge great white shark about to eat a scared elephant.

"If you can read this, you obviously aren't from Alabama."

And so on and so on. . . . hilarious, creative stuff.


The local pregame show I'm on three hours prior to kickoff is set up right off of the main road in front of the Union. Last week, one of our message board posters on The Spirit stated that the "talent" wasn't as good as usual.

I'm here to testify - he needs glasses.

The Ole Miss "talent" - and we all know what that is referencing - is better than ever.


Then, to make the day even better, Desmond Howard, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstriet all picked the Tide to beat the Rebels.

Guest picker Katy Perry, she of 57 million Twitter followers, was the only panel member that chose the Rebels.

Maybe ESPN should hire a pop singer for their experts, because she obviously knew more than Lee, Desmo and Herbie.


The stadium filled up early, which was what the administration and coaches had asked fans to do.

And not only was the stadium full, it was loud in a partisan Ole Miss way - from start to finish.


Then, the game.

It had the ebb and flow of any heavyweight matchup, but at half, not many would have given the Rebels a great chance due to an unfortunate play right before intermission.

Trying to run out the clock, trailing 7-3, I'tavius Mathers ran around left end and was clearly grabbed by the facemask. He fumbled, Bama scooped and scored and instead of a 4-point deficit, it was 14-3 Rammer Jammer.

Not perfect.

This is where the team came to a crossroad, it says here.

Many Rebels teams in the past would have been dejected in the locker room. Some would have thought about going through the motions after halftime. A couple would have outright quit.

Not this team.

Bama got the ball first and even though they moved it some, the Rebel defense stiffened.

Both teams traded possessions and then lightning struck for Ole Miss in the form of QB Bo Wallace finding a streaking TE Evan Engram for 50 yards and a first down at the Tide 18 midway through the third quarter. Two plays later WR Laquon Treadwell split two defenders and romped into the end zone to make the score 14-10.

The TD gave the crowd and the team the spark it needed.


Even though the defense gave up a field goal on Alabama's next possession, the Tide would not scratch again.

Meanwhile, the Rebels, according to Coach Hugh Freeze, "found something" that would work against the Tide defense, but he cautioned Wallace to be patient - he'd call it when he saw Bama give the defensive look he wanted.

That came with 5:29 to go in the game when Wallace found WR Vincent Sanders with a 34-yard TD strike on a post pattern. The PAT tied the score.



Sanders was called for excessive celebration for taking his helmet off two steps from the sidelines, a bush league call, but called nonetheless.

Justice was served, however, when on the ensuing kickoff Channing Ward stripped the Alabama return man and reserve CB Kailo Moore recovered it on the Tide 31.


A run by Jaylen Walton and a completion to Quon left the ball inside the ten, but the Rebels went backwards a couple of yards and faced a third-and-11 from the 11. Freeze and OC Dan Werner had another wrinkle up their sleeve - a fake screen, getting Walton on a Bama LB one-on-one, faking the screen and then going. Bo threw a strike in the end zone and Walton hauled it in.

23-17, Rebs.


Perfection ceased for a moment, however, when the Rebs missed not one, but two, extra point attempts. They were awarded a second one after a roughing the kicker call.

Visions of 24-23 Bama danced in Rebels' heads - admit it.

Alabama moved down the field efficiently, but on third-and-13 from the Rebel 33, QB Blake Sims went for the home run, where Rebel CB Senquez Golson caught the ball at the back of the end zone, but was called out of bounds.

A review in the box, however, proved Senquez was in bounds. Rebs' ball, Rebs' game. The Rebs stand at 5-0, 2-0 in the SEC.


The crowd emptied on to the field. Pandemonium.

The goalposts came down and ended up somewhere on the Oxford Square.

Oxford will be partying until the wee hours, and rightly so.

The perfect ending to the perfect day.


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