Rebels lose SEC opener to Kentucky

Ole Miss and Kentucky squared off in Commonwealth Stadium Saturday night, and it was the homestanding Wildcats who came away with a 17-point victory. Ole Miss fell to 1-2 on the season and Kentucky improved to 2-1. It was the SEC opener for both teams.

Five turnovers and 12 penalties were most of the story for Ole Miss Saturday night as the Rebels fell at Kentucky 31-14.

Many of the turnovers and penalties were at such inopportune times, like a deep drive into UK territory when on third and 7 at the Cat 11-yard line, UM quarterback Brent Schaeffer was intercepted by the Wildcats.

Or when on what would have been a fourth and 10 for Kentucky at the Rebel 44, a late hit on Ole Miss gave the Cats a first down at the Reb 28. Kentucky would score on that fourth-quarter drive to go up 28-14 and all but wrap it up.

So Ole Miss had its chances. But mistakes killed the Rebels.

"We had too many turnovers and penalties," said second-year UM head coach Ed Orgeron, whose team fell to 1-2 on the season and 0-2 in Southeastern Conference play. "We have to go back to work and improve for our next game."

The Rebels host undefeated Wake Forest (3-0) at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium/Hollingsworth Field at 5 p.m. (CDT) next Saturday.

The Rebels actually led 7-0 in this one when Schaeffer completed a 47-yard pass to Marshay Green with 4:35 to go in the first quarter. Joshua Shene connected on the extra point, capping a 3-play, 55-yard drive that began when Greg Hardy recovered a UK fumble at the Wildcat 45.

But Kentucky, which improved to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in SEC action, immediately answered with a quick scoring drive of its own. In five plays starting from their own 31, the Wildcats scored on a 26-yard pass from quarterback Andre' Woodson to Dicky Lyons. Lones Seiber added the point after kick, and Kentucky had tied the game 7-7.

In the second quarter, the Cats scored on another Woodson to Lyons connection, this time from the 6-yard line, a leaping reception in the back of the end zone. Seiber was good and UK led 14-7 with 12:35 to go in the second.

The Rebels tied it 14-14 on a Schaeffer pass to tight end Robert Hough with 4:08 to go before halftime. Shene was good on the extra point as the drive covered 80 yards in just five plays, starting at the UM 20 with a Schaeffer to Mike Wallace pass for 18 yards followed by a late-hit penalty tacked onto the end.

But the Cats soon moved out in front again as on the ensuing drive Woodson connected on his third and final TD pass of the game, a 22-yarder to Curtis Pully. Seiber was good and Kentucky went to the locker room ahead 21-14 at intermission.

Neither team scored in the third quarter, and Kentucky scored the game's final touchdown in the fourth on the drive aided by the aforementioned late-hit penalty. Woodson connected with Michael Strickland on a third and 12 pass play that covered 26 yards from the UM 30 down to the 4-yard line. Two plays later Tony Dixon scored from the 2, and for a brief moment a penalty flag gave Ole Miss hope the touchdown might not count. But the penalty was offsides on the Rebels, and the TD stood. Seiber tacked on the PAT for the 28-14 UK lead with 5:30 to go.

An Ole Miss fumble on the first play from scrimmage after the UK touchdown was recovered by the Cats at the Rebel 28. Shortly thereafter, Seiber came on to kick a 41-yard field goal, but Kentucky was flagged for illegal procedure. As the night had gone for Ole Miss, the officials picked up the flag, waved off the penalty, and Kentucky led 31-14 with 3:15 to go.

"We made way too many mistakes," said Schaeffer, who was 13-for-26 for 190 yards with two TDs and one interception. "Not many teams in the nation can win with that many mistakes."

BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 85 yards on 19 carries while Bruce Hall rushed for 46 yards on 7 carries. Schaeffer had 65 yards on 11 carries.

For Kentucky, Woodson was 21-for-34 for 290 yards and three touchdowns.

Marshay Green and Shay Hodge each had three receptions for Ole Miss.

UK had 21 first downs to 17 for Ole Miss. The Rebs rushed for 205 yards to 90 for Kentucky. The Wildcats had 290 yards through the air and Ole Miss 190.

Kentucky had two turnovers in the contest.

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