If nothing else, these Rebels are resilient

After a dream-dashing loss to Arkansas two week ago, and an open week to stew about it, many wondered how the Rebels would handle the rest of the regular season - a home stand against LSU and a road game against MSU. The first part of that equation was answered with resounding clarity.

There are hundreds of old sayings and axioms proclaiming the virtues of getting up after getting knocked down and how admirable it is to have that trait.

Not everyone possesses that quality, and certainly not every athletic team can do it.

But while some of the Ole Miss Rebels' lofty goals for the 2015 season may not be reached, one thing they can take with them with pride is the ability to come back after heartbreaking setbacks and bumps in the road.

There may not have been a more brutal, spirit-breaking, mind-numbing loss anywhere in the country than the 53-52 overtime loss to Arkansas that took their destiny out of their hands and was as cruel a blow as 2014's Auburn loss/Laquon Treadwell injury.

But just as they had after losing in demoralizing fashion to Memphis in Memphis and then coming back to defeat SEC opponents Texas A&M and Auburn, the Rebels bounced back from the excruciating loss to the Hogs with a pretty convincing victory over a talented, but struggling LSU squad who needed a win as badly as anyone anywhere and were on a bounce back mission of their own.

If they are nothing else, the Rebels are resilient and when you look for ways to judge character, never quitting is one guideline and this team passes that test with good marks as well.

"We still have a lot to play for and even if we didn't, we aren't quitting," declared Rebel senior DB Mike Hilton. "We have put a lot of our blood and sweat into this program to have any lay down in us. We may get beaten, but it won't be because we laid down."

"It's really amazing," said Coach Hugh Freeze, choking up a little. "These kids have had disappointment after disappointment and they just come back for more and respond almost every time."

The Rebels, you are already aware, jumped to a surprising 24-0 lead through a variety of ways, mostly more of the efficient offense the Rebels exhibited against Arkansas, but LSU showed they weren't quite dead. On life support, maybe, but not dead.

For the last four minutes of the first half and first six minutes of the second half - thanks to the Rebs fumbling a kickoff return - it was all Tigers, who put up 17 unanswered points and cut the deficit to a single touchdown and PAT.

LSU had all the momentum and it looked like the Rebs had lost a little of their energy and edge.

Again, this is where the bounce back weighs in.

Led by Quarterback Chad Kelly and an outstanding mix of run and pass calls, the Rebels quickly marched 83 yards with Kelly running the final l11 for a score to make it 31-17 with 7:34 to go in the third.

The defense got a spark from the extra TD padding and shut LSU down while giving the offense the ball back on the Rebel 43. Six plays later, facing a third-and-15 at the LSU 36, the Rebel coaches dialed up a screen to TE Evan Engram, the blocking was perfect and Egram dove into the end zone to give the Rebs a three TD edge, 38-17 late in the third quarter.

An interception by freshman Safety Zedrick Woods killed one LSU threat as the third quarter ended and a huge hit to jar the ball from a would-be LSU receiver by Safety Chief Brown, playing for injured C.J. Hampton, on a fourth and five in Ole Miss territory, thwarted another LSU threat.

A defense that was absolutely shredded by the Hogs two weeks before, did a nice job on the best running back in the nation, Leonard Fournette, and didn't let LSU's passing game do very much damage either. Fournette got his, so to speak, but not in a way that did great harm to the Rebels. Give him his due, though, even with the box stacked, he was scary and never backed down despite getting pounded pretty convincingly.

So the Rebs now have eight wins with one regular season game to go. They are also assured of another winning record in the SEC, sitting at 5-2 currently.

They have had major disappointments,  disappoinments lesser teams might not have overcome. A couple of the losses were possible throw-in-the-towel jobs.

These Rebels, however, have character and pride.

And bounce back, a commodity worth gold.


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