"When you don't turn the ball over, you win football games," Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt said, his team improving to 5-4 overall and 3-3 in league play. "We've got a chance to beat anybody on our schedule if we don't turn it over. We hung in there and found a way to win. I'm really proud of our players for fighting so hard."
On the flip side, Auburn quarterback Kodi Burns threw three second-half interceptions which led to the Tigers' doom.
The Rebels led 10-0 at halftime before 57,324, but all their points were scored in the second quarter.
The first quarter saw little offensive production by either team. Both teams had two first downs apiece. The Rebels had 68 yards total offense, while the Tigers had but 28.
The second period was much like the first until late. Following a Clinton Durst punt of 53 yards and a Marshay Green return of four yards, Ole Miss went to work at its own 37-yard line. After eight plays the drive stalled on the Tiger 16, and Joshua Shene, a Lou Groza Award semi-finalist, was true on a 34-yard field goal with 5:07 left before halftime for a 3-0 UM lead.
Including a second-half miss, Shene is 12-of-14 on the season in the field goal department and had made eight in a row before that miss.
After Auburn, now 4-5 overall and 2-4 in the SEC, failed to move it and Durst punted again, this time for 42 yards, the Rebels began deep in their own territory at the 14. But Jevan Snead directed the Rebels 86 yards in nine plays, the touchdown play a 2-yard pass to Shay Hodge. There was actually an interference call on the Tigers that was declined. Shene made the extra point, and the Rebels led 10-0 with 38 seconds to go before halftime.
With all three timeouts remaining, Auburn rushed the ball on the first play, then Ashlee Palmer hurried a throw by Burns that was incomplete. The half ended and the Rebels took a 10-point lead into the locker room.
The Tigers took the second-half kickoff and moved in for a touchdown. Kodi Burns took the Tigers downfield from the 24-yard line and in five plays had them in the end zone. Ben Tate rushed the final 27 yards with Wes Byrum connecting on the point after. With 13:21 to go in the third, the Tigers had cut the Rebel lead to three points at 10-7.
The teams exchanged possessions the rest of the third quarter, but Ole Miss added another touchdown in the fourth. The Tigers had marched from their own 28 to the Rebel 19. But on third and 12, Burns was intercepted by Marshay Green at the 7 and he returned the ball 27 yards up to the 34. In 12 plays the Rebels were in the end zone as Snead hit Derrick Davis in the right flat and he scampered in. Shene was good and the lead was 17-7 with 6:45 to go.
Snead ended the game 15-of-30 for 240 yards and two touchdowns.
There was still plenty of time left for the Tigers, and Burns tried to rally the troops. But after moving the Tigers from their own 20 to the Rebel 35, Kendrick Lewis picked off a pass at the 8-yard line, the Tiger threat had been thwarted.
Only 3:50 remained in the contest, but the Rebels couldn't run out the clock. Rob Park punted and with 51 seconds left and the Tigers had the ball at their own 17. They got as far as the UM 11 on a pass from Burns to Mario Fannin as time expired.
The Rebel defense held Auburn to 75 yards rushing, but the Tigers had 319 through the air for a total of 394 yards. The Rebels had 233 yards on the ground and 140 yards passing for 373 total yards.
The Rebel defenders, so good on this day, were led by Vaughn's nine tackles, six of them solo, along with his one interception.
Lewis had seven tackles, five of them solos, and the one interception. Lockett also had seven tackles, four of them solos, and Peria Jerry had six tackles, three solos. Along with his pick, had a pass breakup.
Ole Miss had 21 first downs to 17 for Auburn. Three second-half interceptions for Burns proved to be a difference as the Tiger quarterback was 27-of-43 with no touchdowns but three interceptions.
In addition to the fourth-quarter picks by Green and Lewis, Cassius Vaughn had intercepted Burns in the third.
Hodge led the Rebel receivers with six catches for 62 yards and a touchdown. Cordera Eason rushed 14 times for 104 yards to lead the Rebel ground game.
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