BLOG — Ole Miss’ stiffest test in more than a month comes tonight (6:45 p.m., ESPN) against No. 8 Missouri at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
The Tigers (9-1 overall) get starting quarterback James Franklin back after he missed most of the last four games games with a shoulder injury. The senior got some snaps in garbage time in Missouri’s win over Kentucky a week ago. Ole Miss (7-3) has won four in a row.
Missouri takes the opening possession and makes it look easy, marching 72 yards in eight plays to take the lead on a 4-yard TD run from RB Henry Josey. Franklin looked sharp on the drive, completing all three of his passes for 35 yards. It’s Missouri 7, Ole Miss 0 less than 3 minutes in.
The Rebels pick up a first down on their initial drive, but QB Bo Wallace underthrows Donte Moncrief near midfield is intercepted by Randy Ponder. But the Tigers go backward on three plays, and Ole Miss will get the ball back at its 9.
Ole Miss puts together an 18-play drive and will start the second quarter facing fourth-and-goal from the Missouri 1. RB Jaylen Walton tried to go over the top on third down but didn’t make it. After one quarter, it’s Missouri 7, Ole Miss 0.
The Rebels lined up to go for it, but Pierce Burton was flagged for his second false start of the game. Andrew Ritter came on for a 23-yard field goal attempt, but the kick was blocked. An 18-play drive goes for nothing. That may be one we’re talking about come the fourth quarter. It’s still 7-0 Missouri.
Missouri goes nowhere on three plays, and Ole Miss gets the ball back at its own 29.
Ole Miss punts it back, and Missouri goes 75 yards in 10 plays to add to its lead with a 33-yard field goal from Andrew Baggett. It’s now Missouri 10, Ole Miss 0 with 7:31 left in the first half. Backup QB Maty Mauk, who filled in for Franklin in the last four games, engineered that drive. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said this week that the plan was for both to play.
Ole Miss goes 62 yards down to Missouri’s 13 but stalls in the red zone gain. Ritter’s attempt gets through this time from 30 yards out, and Ole Miss trims the deficit to 10-3 with 4:06 left in the half.
It doesn’t take Missouri long to answer. The Tigers go 68 yards seven plays for a touchdown on Marcus Murphy’s 4-yard TD run on an option pitch. It’s now Missouri 17, Ole Miss 3 with 1:37 left before the half. Franklin completed all three of his passes on that drive and is now 7-for-7 for 89 yards.
Ole Miss moves into Missouri territory in six plays before taking a timeout. Ball at the Tigers’ 44 with 7 seconds left. Ritter tries a 61-yarder, but it’s well short. Halftime: Missouri 17, Ole Miss 3.
The Rebels’ running game comes to life on their first possession of the second half. Mathers bounes a run to the outside and rips off a 45-yard TD run to draw the Rebels within 17-10 early in the third quarter.
Missouri answers right back, marching 85 yards to regain its two-touchdown lead on a 10-yard TD run from Josey. It’s now Missouri 24, Ole Miss 10 with 6:56 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers drive inside Ole Miss’ 40, but Derrick Jones breaks up a deep pass intended for Dorial Green-Beckham on fourth down. Huge play at this juncture. Rebels take over at their own 31 with 11 minutes to go.
Ole Miss gets to the Tigers’ 7, but end up going backwards on a reverse. Back-to-back incompletions from Wallace turn the ball over on downs at Missouri’s 13. That’s now multiple trips inside the red zone for Ole Miss, and the Rebels have produced just three points on those opportunities. It’s still Missouri 24, Ole Miss 10 midway through the fourth.
The Rebels don’t get the ball back. Missouri picks up a few first downs to run out the block, and Ole Miss falls 24-10 to the eighth-ranked Tigers.
Ole Miss drops to 7-4 overall and 3-4 in SEC play while Missouri improves to 10-1 and 6-1 in the league. The Rebels will wrap up the regular season on Thursday with the annual Egg Bowl against rival Mississippi State. (November 23, 2013)