BLOG — Ole Miss will put a bow on the 2013 season with a matchup against Georgia Tech in today’s Music City Bowl. Kickoff from LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., is set for 2:15 p.m. (ESPN).
The Rebels and Yellow Jackets are each looking for their eighth win. Ole Miss is also searching for some momentum heading into the offseason after dropping its final two games of the regular season, including a 17-10 setback to Mississippi State last time out. Ole Miss has scored just one offensive touchdown in its last eight quarters.
Throughout bowl preparations, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has harped on the need to get the running game back on track, something that may be a little more difficult without senior RB Jeff Scott, who won’t play after returning home to Florida earlier this week because of an illness in his family. WR Ja-Mes Logan (academically ineligible) and TE Nick Parker (personal matter) are also out.
The Rebels will get back a big target in the passing game as freshman TE Evan Engram practiced last week and will play for the first time since undergoing ankle surgery following the LSU game in mid-October. Engram had the third-most receptions for the Rebels before getting injured.
Ole Miss wins the toss and has elected to receive.
Ole Miss takes the opening kickoff and marches 75 yards on 15 plays. A fourth-down completion from Bo Wallace to Jaylen Walton, who made a leaping grab, was a key play to keep the drive alive. Wallace capped the drive with a 17-yard TD scamper. It’s Ole Miss 7, Georgia Tech 0 with 10:15 left in the opening quarter. More than half of the Rebels’ yards (38) came on the ground. Nice balance to start.
Georgia Tech answers with a 14-play, 74-yard drive to even things up. Robert Godhigh takes the pitch and runs around the left end for an 8-yard score. The Jackets, who entered today as the nation’s fourth-best rushing team, worked their triple option to near perfection, running for 72 yards on the drive. Ole Miss 7, Georgia Tech 7. 4:24 left in the quarter.
Walton muffs the kickoff and was fortunate to recover the ball as a host of Tech defenders were closing in on him. As a result, Ole Miss will start its next drive at its own 3-yard line.
Ole Miss punts, and the first quarter comes to end with the game tied at 7.
Ole Miss’ defense holds Tech to force a punt. Jordan Holder, fielding punts in place of Jeff Scott, lets the punt bounce inside the 10 before fielding the ball near the goal line. Bad choice there. Ole Miss will be backed up again.
Ole Miss picks up a couple of first downs before stalling. Tyler Campbell booms a 68-yard punt, and Georgia Tech will take over at its own 3.
The Rebels stuff three running plays for a total of 3 yards, and Holder returns the punt to Tech’s 38. Four plays later, Wallace finds Donte Moncrief for a 28-yard TD. The play was upheld after a review. Moncrief tightroped the last 5 yards but never stepped out of bounds, extending the ball inside the pylon. But Tech blocks the PAT. It’s Ole Miss 13, Georgia Tech 7 with 7:59 left in the half.
Ole Miss stops Tech, but the Jackets try a fake punt on 4th-and-11 near midfield. But P Sean Poole trips before he can really get started. Loss of 2. Ole Miss takes over at Tech’s 49.
Ole Miss drives to Tech’s 11, but Wallace’s third-down pass intended for Moncrief is batted away by D.J. White. Andrew Ritter’s 28-yard FG attempt never got off the ground, clanging off the crossbar. It’s been a bad special teams showing on both sides today. Ole Miss’ lead stays at 13-7 with less than a minute left in the half.
The Rebels get the final possession of the half and move to Tech’s 35, but a 10-yard pass from Wallace to I’Tavius Mathers is negated by a holding penalty. The half ends with Ole Miss holding a 13-7 lead.
Ole Miss gets the first break of the second half. CB Mike Hilton hits Vad Lee on the option keeper and causes a fumble. S Trae Elston recovers for the Rebels at Tech’s 44.
The Rebels’ offense takes advantage of the short field. Wallace runs in from 10 yards out for his second TD run of the day to cap a five-play drive. It’s 20-7 Ole Miss with 8:13 left in the third quarter. Wallace is Ole Miss’ leading rusher with 51 yards.
Ole Miss’ defense hasn’t given up much after the Yellow Jacket’s early touchdown drive. The Rebels hold again to get the ball back for the offense. A 52-yard completion to Moncrief moves Ole Miss to Tech’s 19, but the Rebels eventually settle for a 29-yard FG from Ritter. It’s Ole Miss 23, Georgia Tech 7 with 3 minutes left in the quarter.
The third quarter ends with Ole Miss still holding the 16-point lead, but Tech is driving at the Rebels’ 21.
Georgia Tech’s Harrison Butker hits a 38-yard FG to cut Ole Miss’ lead to 23-10 with 14:43 left to play. Tech’s drive covered 64 yards on 14 plays.
Wallace throws his first interception of the day at Tech’s 28, and it takes the Jackets just one play to creep closer. Lee finds a wide-open Waller for a 72-yard catch-and-run score to bring Tech within 23-17 with 13:25 remaining. Freshman Tony Conner fell down on the play.
Ole Miss goes three and out on its ensuing possession. Tech starts its next drive at its own 41. Momentum has completely shifted in this one.
Tech moves into Ole Miss territory, but the Rebels push the Yellow Jackets backward on the next three plays. Ole Miss’ offense has the ball back at its own 13. 9:46 left.
Ole Miss tacks on a safety, and CB Senquez Golson intercepts Lee to thwart Tech’s final chance with 37 seconds left. Ole Miss wins 25-17 to finish 8-5 and take some momentum into the offseason. (December 30, 2013)