NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ole Miss’ Rebels were a minute and a half from feeling like they did a year ago against Vanderbilt. Thankfully for head coach Hugh Freeze, his defensive staff and the players, they have a speedster like running back Jeff Scott on the roster.
The Miami native propelled the Rebels to an unbelievable, come-from-behind 39-35 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium Thursday night. In a game seen across the nation on ESPN, Scott’s 75-yard weaving sprint into the end zone not only erased the brief lead Vanderbilt was able to garner 23 seconds earlier, it may have just given the Rebels the confidence to finish off games like this more often.
“We stole one tonight and we didn’t necessarily play that well. One of the staples of our program is that you play for 60 minutes, you do not blink, you play until the whistle blows and at the end of the game ,you look up and look at what the score is,” Freeze said after the thrilling victory in front of a capacity crowd of 40,350. “I really have to credit a number of young kids. We had to play a lot of them. We were like the walking wounded on the sideline and we had to play a lot of young cats tonight. I thought they competed.”
In a game that was a back-and-forth affair all night, the Rebels saved their best for last against the Commodores. They scored 29 of their 39 points in the second half, including three touchdowns in the final 16 minutes of play. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace finished the game with two rushing touchdowns, while backup QB Barry Brunetti also added two rushing touchdowns in the contest.
Vanderbilt, which had won six of the last eight meetings against Ole Miss, led 21-10 at the half and was up three points — 35-32 — with just 1:30 left when tight end Steven Scheu caught a 34-yard touchdown from quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels.
With the momentum and crowd clearly against them, Scott and the Rebels didn’t blink. On the second play of their final possession, Scott took a handoff from Wallace and ran towards his own sideline. As he continued down the field, weaving and looking for open space, Scott continued to evade Vanderbilt defenders until he crossed the goal line with just 1:07 left in the game.
“I’m so happy for him because he’s really bought in to our program. He’s one of my favorite kids now. He stays off lists, he’s making his grades, doing everything right. He’s a talented kid and I really felt like all we needed was a field goal. I saw what they did on the first play and I knew it would be a good run play,” Freeze said. “I didn’t know he would go all the way to the house but I knew it would be a good run play.”
Safety Cody Prewitt then iced the win for the Rebels on the ensuing Vanderbilt possession when he was able to intercept Carta-Samuels off a deflection. Ole Miss finished the game with 489 total yards while Vanderbilt finished with 426 yards in the shootout.
For more coverage from Thursday night’s win, see today’s print edition of the EAGLE. (August 30, 2013)