Rebels win homecoming game against Vandy

Ole Miss had lost six straight Southeastern Conference football games since beating Kentucky 13-7 last season in Oxford. But on Homecoming Day 2006, the Rebels were victorious as Vanderbilt fell in Oxford 17-10.

Ole Miss senior free safety Charles Clark saved the day as he stepped in front of a pass from Vanderbilt quarterback Mackenzi Adams intended for George Smith deep in Rebel territory and raced back past midfield. Less than half a minute remained in the game as Ole Miss won its homecoming game 17-10 before an announced crowd of 51,211.

Vanderbilt had gotten the football back trailing by seven points with 1:04 left following a Rob Park punt. From their own 23, Vandy moved to the UM 22 in two plays. But on first and 10 at the Rebel 22, Clark was right where he needed to be and intercepted the pass. He raced 52 yards to the Vanderbilt 39, sliding safely to the Hollingsworth Field turf and all but putting the win on this day into the books.

"We blitzed and put some pressure on him," said UM Coach Ed Orgeron, whose team improved to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in Southeastern Conference play. "Charles stepped in and made the play. I'm proud of the senior." Vandy was out of timeouts and as the clock started with 25 seconds remaining, the Rebels didn't even have to snap the football.

The Rebels scored first in this one on a 2-yard rush by Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis, who pushed and battled his way through defenders for the score. Joshua Shene was good on the extra point, and the Rebels led 7-0 with 5:00 to go in the first quarter.

On Vandy's next possession the Commodores were punting from their own 30 when a sea of blue jerseys swamped punter Brett Upson who couldn't get the punt off. Cassius Vaughn was the Rebel credited with the tackle. The Rebels took over at the VU 17. Two plays later the Rebs were called for holding. But on third and 12 from the 19, Schaeffer hit Michael Hicks across the middle to the 1-yard line. Green-Ellis then took it in from the 1-yard line. Shene was good and Ole Miss led 14-0 with 1:26 to go in the first period.

The Commodores put points on the scoreboard early in the second quarter. Quarterback Chris Nickson completed an 18-yard pass to Sean Walker for a touchdown. Bryant Hahnfeldt connected on the point after, and the Rebs still led but only by seven points at 14-7 with 11:54 to go before halftime.

Ole Miss set itself up for points but failed to get any when Mico McSwain returned the ensuing kickoff from his 13 to the Commodore 18. But on fourth and 2, the Rebels went for it and came up short as a naked bootleg by QB Brent Schaeffer was snuffed out by Commodores Chris Booker.

Vandy took over and moved it out for field position. But as the half moved ahead, neither team produced points.

To open the third period, a Vandy fumble with Cassen Jackson-Garrison carrying the football was forced by Greg Hardy. It was recovered by Brandon Jenkins at the Commodore 42. Green-Ellis led the Rebs downfield from that point, carrying it five straight times to the VU 14. But on fourth and 1, Shene was called on for a 32-yard field goal that was good. Ole Miss led 17-7 with 9:45 left in the third quarter.

The Commodores threatened following a Rebel punt in the fourth. At their own 22, two quick passes from Adams to Earl Bennett of 35 and 41 yards respectively had the Dores poised for points at the UM 2-yard line. After an incomplete pass, Adams was rushed and Rory Johnson simply took the ball away from him at the Ole Miss 14-yard line. It was Johnson's first start as a Rebel.

After Schaeffer was intercepted three plays later, the Dores were again deep in UM territory. But the Rebel defense stood tall and forced a 37-yard Hahnfeldt field goal with 4:54 to go to make it 17-10.

Ole Miss was then able to eat up a lot of clock and even went for it on fourth and 1 at their own 42. Schaeffer kept the ball and got the first down with 2:45 to go. But the Commodores used up their timeouts, and when they received a Park punt, there was 1:04 to go. That's when the final drive for the Commodores ended with Clark's interception.

UM backup quarterback Seth Adams went in the for the Rebels just before halftime and also started the second half. Schaeffer returned as the second half moved on and finished the contest.

The Commodores also went with their backup to Nickson, an Adams as well, as he entered in the second period after an ankle injury to Nickson. Mackenzie Adams went the rest of the way at quarterback.

Vandy had 400 yards of offense to the Rebels' 179. The Dores also led in the first down department 23 to 7.

Green-Ellis had 101 yards on 24 carries with two touchdowns. Schaeffer was 3-for-8 for 31 yards with two interceptions. Adams, the Ole Miss edition, was 0-for-1 in the contest.

Adams, the Commodore edition, was the leading Vandy rusher with 51 yards on 11 carries. Earl Bennett caught 10 passes for 179 yards for the Commodores.

Johnson had 16 tackles for the Rebels with two fumble recoveries, while Patrick Willis had 12 tackles.

Vandy lost four of six fumbles and had two interceptions. The Rebs threw two interceptions but had no fumbles.

Next week Ole Miss travels to Alabama, while Vanderbilt (2-4, 0-3) plays at Georgia.

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