McCluster Flusters Vols

Dexter McCluster racked up a school-record 324 all-purpose yards, including 282 rushing yards as Ole Miss beat Tennessee 42-17 Saturday in Oxford.

The Rebel senior scored four touchdowns in leading his team (7-3 overall, 3-3 SEC) to victory. His 282 rushing yards came on 25 carries and his 42 receiving yards on four receptions.

"What a day," said Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt. "Dexter's a special guy. He'll go down as one of the alltime greats. He's got a great heart. He loves his teammates. And he's fun to watch."

"I'm very satisfied with the win," McCluster said. "We were fired up. It's just a blessing for me to get that many catches and that many yards."

Tennessee first-year head coach Lane Kiffin was impressed.

"Obviously we played a really good team today with a great player," he said. "We didn't have anyone who could tackle him."

A first-half scoring fest of five touchdowns between the two teams started on the Rebels' first drive. It took just four plays for McCluster to get his team going, racing around left end for 15 yards and the score. A drive that started at the Rebel 40 took 1:31 off the clock, and Ole Miss was in business, up 7-0.

Tennessee (5-5, 2-4) answered later in the first period on a 16-yard pass from Jonathan Crompton to Jeff Cottam.

Before the end of the first quarter, the Rebels went up 14-7 when McCluster again got the call, this time a 23-yard scamper out of the Wild Rebel formation. The Rebs covered 73 yards in seven plays.

UT came right back in the second quarter and tied it up 14-14 with an 11-play, 70-yard drive as Crompton hit Denarius Moore for 25 yards and a score.

The Rebels retook the lead on their next drive with an eight-play, 75-yard effort as McCluster again took it the distance, this time 32 yards with 6:59 to go before halftime.

Ole Miss had a chance to stretch its lead right before intermission. Deep in Tennessee territory and three incompletions later after a first down at the 11, Joshua Shene missed a 27-yard field goal wide right.

It was a crucial segment. A tipped ball by a UT lineman kept tight end Gerald Harris from catching a touchdown pass. Then on second and 10 from the 11, quarterback Jevan Snead threw high to Shay Hodge. For a moment it appeared he had it for six but coming down the ball came loose. On third and 10 at the 11, Snead short-hopped it to McCluster out of the backfield.

So the Rebels took only a 21-14 lead into the locker room.

After Tennessee got a field goal of 27 yards on the opening drive of the third period to pull to within four, the Rebels put together one of the season's finest drives.

A 62-yard, 13-play drive that took 7:13 off the clock resulted in a 28-17 lead for the Rebels, a Brandon Bolden rush of a yard the clincher.

But it was an absolutely electrifying run of 71 yards by McCluster on the Rebs' first offensive play of the fourth quarter that brought a crowd of 61,422 to its collective feet. His twist and turn run took him from one side of the field to another as he raced the distance to seal the Vols' fate and give his team a 35-17 advantage.

Ole Miss made it 42-17 late with a Bolden touchdown of four yards, capping another lengthy drive, this one 14 plays over 72 yards.

Ole Miss outgained the Volunteers 492 yards to 275 yards, the Rebel defense limiting the visitors to 99 yards on the ground. Ole Miss rushed for 359 yards on 50 carries.


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