No. 12 Rebels Drop Tight Contest At No. 22 Arkansas

Ole Miss Football(Photo by Ole Miss Athletics)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – For the second straight season, the Ole Miss football team fell in a back-and-forth battle against Arkansas. A six-yard run by Jared Cornelius with 2:20 remaining pushed the No. 22 Razorbacks (5-2, 1-2 SEC) to a 34-30 win over the No. 12 Rebels (3-3, 1-2 SEC) Saturday night at Razorback Stadium.

Senior quarterback Chad Kelly accounted for 334 total yards (253 passing, 89 rushing) and three touchdowns (one passing, two rushing) in the Southeastern Conference setback. Tight end Evan Engram hauled in seven passes for 111 yards and 1 touchdown, all team highs. The Powder Springs, Georgia, native recorded his third 100-yard game of the season while finding the end zone for the 12th time in his career.

Ole Miss finished with 403 yards of total offense compared to 429 by Arkansas. The Razorbacks were led by running back Rawleigh Williams III, who carried the ball 27 times for 180 yards. Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen was 19 of 32 for 229 yards as well as three touchdowns and one interception.

Both teams went three-and-out to start the game before the Razorbacks drove down the field for the opening score. The Ole Miss defense held Arkansas to -13 yards on its opening drive, but the home team went 82 yards in five plays on the following drive, capped off by a 51-yard touchdown pass from Austin Allen to Dominque Reed.

The Rebels responded with a touchdown of their own. After a 39-yard kickoff return by Carlos Davis gave Ole Miss good field position, Kelly marched his team down the field. The senior quarterback completed all five of his passes on the drive, the last resulting in the 13-yard touchdown to Evan Engram. The TD reception tied the school record for most touchdowns by a tight end. Despite the answer, Gary Wunderlich missed the first extra point of his career to keep Arkansas ahead 7-6 with 7:23 remaining in the first quarter.

Arkansas answered with 10 straight points to taka double-digit lead early in the second quarter, 17-6. Following a 43-yard Razorback field goal, Ole Miss found the end zone on a 7-play, 67-yard drive. On third-and-goal, Akeem Judd rumbled for the 2-yard touchdown to make it a four-point game.

The Razorbacks added another field goal to give them a touchdown lead, but Kelly led the Rebels down the field late in the first half to tie the game. After the Landshark defense forced a punt, the Rebels found themselves pinned at their own 10-yard line. However, that didn’t affect the Ole Miss offense. In only 48 seconds, the Rebels drove all the way down the field. Kelly found Engram on back-to-back passes for 54 yards before a 22-yard strike to Quincy Adeboyejo put Ole Miss in the red zone. Kelly did the rest, keeping the ball on a read option for an 8-yard touchdown run. The second quarter rally brought the game to a 20-20 standstill as the two conference foes headed into the locker room.

Engram had a monstrous first half, catching six passes for 105 yards to secure his third 100-yard receiving game of the season. Adeboyejo followed with four receptions for 61 yards. Kelly went 13 of 21 for 190 yards through the air while adding another 46 yards on the ground.

Arkansas seized the lead with 3:29 remaining in the third quarter as Williams III scored from two yards out. The Rebels countered with a scoring drive of their own but had to settle for a 33-yard field goal by Gary Wunderlich.

With the Razorbacks driving into Ole Miss territory, the Landshark defense came up with a much-needed turnover to swing the momentum in favor of the Rebels. A furious pass rush by Terry Caldwell forced an errant pass by Allen as the Arkansas QB threw it right to Marquis Haynes. The defensive end returned the ball 17 yards into Razorback territory, and the offense took over from there. Kelly ran 11 yards to get the Rebels in the red zone before he kept the ball and sprinted 17 yards into the end zone. The quarterback’s second rushing touchdown of the night gave Ole Miss a 30-27 lead with nine minutes to go in the game.

Arkansas took the lead for good on a late scoring drive in the fourth quarter. Using 10 plays, the Razorbacks found the end zone as Cornelius scampered six yards for the game-winning touchdown. Kelly and the Rebels tried to rally but the quarterback was stopped just short of the first down marker on fourth-and-long, causing the ball and the game to be handed to the Razorbacks.

Ole Miss will remain on the road next week, traveling south to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for another SEC West showdown. The Magnolia Bowl Trophy will be up for grabs as the Rebels battle LSU at 8 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 22) on ESPN.

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