BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A record crowd of 59,135 at Legion Field saw the Ole Miss Rebels defeat the Pittsburgh Panthers 38-17 Saturday afternoon in the BBVA Compass Bowl.The win for the Rebels, who improved to 7-6 overall, was highlighted by the defense and the steady, if not spectacular play, of quarterback Bo Wallace who was named MVP of the annual contest. Ole Miss never trailed in the contest thanks to two first-quarter touchdown passes from Wallace, who finished the game 22-for-32 for 151 yards and three touchdowns.
Wallace’s first touchdown toss to Ja-Mes Logan for 14 yards came on the Rebels’ first drive of the game and five plays after Senquez Golson intercepted Pittsburgh’s Tino Sunseri for the first time in 272 attempts.
Ole Miss went ahead 14-0 at the 5:22 mark of the first quarter when Wallace hit a diving Randall Mackey for a 27-yard TD reception. Mackey’s reception capped the longest drive — 10 plays, 72 yards — of the day for the Rebels.
Pittsburgh (6-7) got as close as seven points (14-7) midway through the second quarter when Sunseri completed a 10-yard scoring strike to Devin Street. Pitt’s momentum only lasted a minute, however, as the Rebels ripped right back down the field to score their final touchdown of the first half.
Wallace’s 18-yard pass to Vince Sanders not only increased the Rebels lead to 21-7 with a made extra point from Bryson Rose, it essentially signaled the end for the Panthers, who were outscored 17-3 until Mike Shanahan scored meaningless 16-yard touchdown reception from Sunseri with 2:23 left.
With the win, the Rebels set a new bowl record with 38 points, eclipsing the 31 points scored by Cincinnati in its win over Southern Miss in 2007. Ole Miss also set a new bowl record with 23 first downs, one more than the old record set by East Carolina in the 2006 game. The Rebels also tied Southern Miss for the most rushing attempts in bowl history (49) while I’Tavius Mathers set a new bowl record with a 62-yard rush for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Below is a video of coach Hugh Freeze, Wallace and linebacker Mike Marry, who finished with four tackles for a loss, after Saturday’s game.
(January 5, 2013)