Grove Bowl

The Red Team - which consisted of the first team defense and second team offense - dominated the Blue Team - first team offense, second team 'D' - 40-14 in the annual Grove Bowl today. Their dominance was spurred by the starting defense and capped by timely offense. Read about it inside.

Rebel Coach Ed Orgeron thought he had divided up the Ole Miss football team fairly evenly for the annual Grove Bowl, witnessed by 22,486 fans at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on a chilly, overcast Saturday afternoon.

He had the Red Team - with the first team defense and second team offense - going against the Blue Team - with the first team offense and second team defense. He played ones against ones and twos against twos.

It ended up being no match as the Red Rebs dominated 40-14 behind the strength of a dominant defensive effort by the Rebel starters and some timely and effective offense that kept the Blue 'D' off-balance all day.

"The number one defense came to play today," said Orgeron. "I was very pleased with the effort of the whole team, but the Red Defense came to play and had a great day."

Led by DE Peria Jerry with six solo tackles and a 55-yard fumble return for a TD by FS Charles Clark, the Red Team ran away with the contest in the second half after the Blue Team had trimmed a 13-0 halftime deficit to 13-6 on a Seth Adams to Burnell Wallace TD pass from 44 yards out.

After that, everyone was seeing Red.

"We came out ready to play today," said Jerry. "We didn't want hot dogs."

Orgeron told the team that at the next team meal the winners would get steak and the losers would get hot dogs. The players took that to heart.

"The Blue Team was asking us how we liked our hot dogs," Jerry smiled. "We told them we liked our steaks with A-1 sauce. Guess who's eating hot dogs now?"

All during spring training, there had been a lot of references to the running game of the number one offense getting better and better. They were held to a net 31 yards on 22 carries by the first team (Red) defense today.

Junior BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who gained a solid 47 yards on 11 carries, said it was simply the defense's day.

"We have had good days this spring, but today was their day," he graciously conceded. "We couldn't get much going today - they were all over us. You could see it in their eyes. We didn't get it done today, but we feel we made a lot of progress this spring and feel good about our direction."

Earlier in the week, Orgeron had moved Brandon Jenkins from backing up DT Hayward Howard to number one NT next to Howard. The combination of the two, along with Jerry on one end and Chris Bowers, who had five tackles and one fumble recovery, on the other end, was too much for the first-team OL to handle.

"Hayward is going to be good. He just has to learn how to use his hands a little better and he'll be excellent. Chris is a very active rush end and it looks like Brandon is starting to make his mark," Jerry continued. "I feel good about our DL. It showed today."

The Red Rebs struck early, when QB Billy Tapp, who threw for 127 yards and three TDs on 8-14 passing on the day, hit TB Hiram White with a 23-yard strike for the first score of the day. Will Moseley kicked the PAT and the Red Rebs led 7-0 at the 7:19 mark of the first quarter.

"Billy did a real good job today," said OC Dan Werner. "He protected the ball and got the ball to the right people at the right time. When he had an open receiver, he delivered the ball on target and on time. I was impressed."

The game clicked along evenly from there until the last minute of the second quarter when backup QB Conner Wise found WR Carlos Suggs streaking down the Blue sideline for a 56-yard score.

"I had dropped a pass earlier," said Suggs. "I didn't let it get to me or hang my head. I gave the DB an out fake and streaked to the end zone. Conner threw a perfect pass. I was glad to put the earlier drop behind me."

Trailing 13-0, the Blue Rebs struck for the Adams to Wallace 44-yard score to cut it to 13-6, but then the Red Rebs drove 93 yards for a score, a 7-yard strike from Tapp to WR Keith Houston at the pylon.

(Both sides of the ball went for two points on all but two PATs. Orgeron wanted to practice two-point coversions and "have some fun" in the contest. He also started both offenses at random spots on the field to see how they would react.)

The Red Rebs struck again immediately when Clark picked up a loose ball and trotted 55 yards for a score to make it 27-6.

"I had contain on that play, but the ball popped free right to me and I spun out of one tackle and was wide open for the score," Clark said.

The Blue Rebs scored on their next possession when Adams connected with WR Michael Hicks on a 17-yard TD pass. Hicks was elevated to number one WR earlier this week after a monster scrimmage last Saturday.

"It felt good to score and to get the ball in my hands," said Hicks. "Seth made a good throw and I did my job."

Tapp added some icing on the cake midway through the fourth quarter when he rolled left on a play-action pass and fired a strike to TE Jason Hawkins in the end zone.

"It was a crossing route and Billy made a perfect throw between two defenders," Hawkins said. "I'm feeling better now. The mono I had is gone and I'm starting to put back on some weight I lost. I was glad to end spring on a good note."

The Red Rebs added insult to injury when Coach O called for an overtime period, even though the game ended with a 34-14 Red victory.

LB Quentin Taylor killed the Blue Rebs' possession with an interception. Then Hiram White scored from 2 yards out for the Red Rebs' OT score.

White led the Red Rebs with 90 yards rushing on 20 carries. Bruce Hall added 58 yards on 14 totes. White was also the leading receiver catching three balls for 56 yards. TE Lawwrence Lilly added two catches for 34 yardds and Hall tacked on 2 more for 25 yards. Tapp was 8-14 with no picks for 127 yards and 3 TDs. Wise was 2-3 with no picks for 61 yards and 1 score, the 56-yarder to Suggs right before halftime.

Jerry had 6 tackles, Clark 5 and a fumble recovery, MLB Robert Russell 5 tackles, Taylor, SS gary Riggs, playing for injured B. Brown, and Bowers had 4 stops each. Bowers also covered a fumble.

For the Blue Rebs, Green-Ellis had 47 yards on 11 carries. WR Marshay Green had 3 carries for 18 yards. Mike Wallace had 3 catches for 61 yards and a TD, Robert Hough 3 for 25 yards, Marshay Green 3 for 23, and TE Robert Lane 2 for 24 yards. QB Seth Adams was 14-30 with 1 interception for 147 yards and two scores.

LB Rogers Loche had 10 tackles to set the pace defensively for the Blue Rebs. LB Brandon Thomas and LB Antonio Turner added 7 tackles each and DE LeRon King registered 6 stops.

Notes: SS B. Brown had a cast on his hand and was on crtuches. He injured his knee in last Saturday's scrimmage and was operated on this week. He should be fine in a few weeks.

* Carlos Suggs has been the number one wide receiver most of spring, but this week RS frosh Michael Hicks took his spot for now and was with the number one offense today.

* Brandon Jenkins replaced Jeremy Garrett as the number one NT today, moving over from DT Hayward Howard's backup.

* James McCoy and Maurice Miller have been battling most of spring for number one RG. Today, Mo played the position with the number one offense.

* With B. Brown out, backup SS Gary Riggs got the starting nod with the Red Reb defense and had a good day with 4 tackles.

Steak for the Red Rebs. Hot Dogs for the Blue Rebs.

OM Spirit Top Stories