On what turned out to be "Touchdown Review Day" at Ole Miss, the Arkansas Razorbacks, trailing at the time 14-7, came out after intermission and played perhaps their best half of the season in defeating the Rebels 28-17. It was the Razorbacks' first SEC win against five losses. Overall the Hogs are 3-6. With the loss, the Rebels' record is identical.
"This is obviously a very disappointing loss and a very disappointing second half for our team," said first-year Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron. "I thought in the first half we played lights out on defense. But in the second half, they hurt us on third down."
The Razorback offense was 8-for-8 on third down conversions in the second half, while freshman quarterback Casey Dick was 12-of-13 passing in the second half for 154 yards and three touchdowns.
Ole Miss held Arkansas to 89 yards rushing in the game. Coming in, the Hogs were one of the top 5 rushing teams in the country.
On the flip side, the Rebels had 10 yards rushing on the day.
"I don't know if you'll ever win a football game rushing for 10 yards," Orgeron said.
Arkansas Coach Houston Nutt was ablaze with excitement. The always bubbly Nutt said it was a really big day for the Razorbacks.
"I can't tell you how great a feeling this is," said Nutt, on the hot seat now that his team is assured of a second straight losing season. "To hear the team singing in the locker room is just great."
Three of the game's first four touchdowns were reviewed by the replay officials upstairs in the press box. Two of them were overturned. In both those instances, once for Ole Miss and once for Arkansas, touchdowns were awarded after on the field officials ruled players were down or out of bounds.
The first review came when Ole Miss quarterback Ethan Flatt connected with Larry Kendrick for 8 yards. At first the officials called Kendrick down at the 1-yard line, but the review officials upstairs said he scored. Matt Hinkle connected on the extra point, and Ole Miss led 7-0 with 3 minutes, 10 seconds to go in the first quarter. The drive began after an Arkansas punt and covered 71 yards in 10 plays.
The Razorbacks would tie it on the period's final play. Flatt was intercepted by Razorback Randy Kelly who returned it 42 yards for a touchdown. The official ruled him out of bounds at the 2-yard line, but the upstairs review folks once again overturned their ruling on the field for a "touchdown." Chris Balseiro was good on the point after, and the game was tied 7-7 at the end of one.
Ole Miss took advantage of a Razorback turnover midway through the second quarter to go up 14-7. Kelvin Robinson forced a fumble on Hog tailback Darren McFadden and the ball was recovered by Patrick Willis at the Razorback 38. Six plays later, Kendrick scored the game's first non-reviewed touchdown. Hinkle's point after was good, and the Rebs led 14-7 with 5:37 left in the first half.
Midway through the third quarter, the Rebels added a 28-yard field goal off another Razorback turnover to take a 17-7 lead with 8:23 to go in the period.
From that point on, it was all Hogs as Arkansas' defense shut down the Rebels while getting their passing game in high gear.
The Razorbacks comeback started on the ensuing possession at the 27-yard line. After Will Moseley's kickoff, Arkansas methodically moved 73 yards in 11 plays to close the gap. Behind the accurate passing of freshman quarterback Casey Dick and aided by a personal foul call against Ole Miss, the Hogs scored on a Dick to Marcus Monk 23-yard touchdown, the third TD reviewed on the afternoon. But the review officials said the on-the-field-crew got this one right, and Balseiro's extra point cut the Rebel lead to 17-14 with 3:33 to go in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter the Razorbacks took the lead early and stayed in front the rest of the way. Dick hit Peyton Hillis on a 4-yard pass play with 12:20 left in the game, capping an 11-play, 63-yard drive that put Arkansas in the lead. The extra point was good, and UA led 21-17. But there would be more good times for the Razorbacks before this one was over.
After the Rebs failed to do anything with the football on their next possession, the visitors moved in for yet another touchdown to all but seal it. Dick hit Monk for 24 yards and a score with 5:06 left, the final play of a 9-yard drive of 61 yards. Balseiro connected and down 28-17, the Rebs were in deep trouble.
Flatt moved the Rebels into scoring position on Ole Miss' next drive, but the drive stalled at the UA 16. With under three minutes to go, the Rebel staff elected to go for a field goal. But Hinkle missed on a 34-yard attempt with 2:22 remaining. The kick would would have brought Ole Miss to within eight points. The try was wide left, and the Hogs simply ran out the clock the rest of the way.
Ole Miss hosts LSU next Saturday at 6:45 p.m., while Arkansas hosts Mississippi State in Little Rock at 1 p.m.
Hogs end Rebs' bowl hopes 28-17
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