NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The 2013 Southeastern Conference football slate was kicked off with thunderous boom Thursday when the Ole Miss Rebels crushed the hearts of Vanderbilt fans with a game-winning touchdown with just 67 seconds left to play.
The Commodores took a 35-32 lead with a minute and a half to play in the game only to hold that lead for 23 seconds. Senior running back Jeff Scott rumbled 75 yards to give the Rebels a 39-35 win.
The game featured four lead changes, three coming in the final 9:05 of the game, 74 points and 915 yards of total offense.
Some other thoughts from the Ole Miss win over Vanderbilt:
Breaking the Plane
After an interception on Vanderbilt's first drive, Ole Miss gained 18 yards on a short field but couldn't punch the football into the end zone. Rebel kicker Andrew Ritter nailed a 30-yard field goal 4:38 into the game for the first points of the game.
Ole Miss backup quarterback Barry Brunetti (who was in for Bo Wallace to punch the ball into the end zone) scored the first touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run through the middle of the line. The score and extra point put the Rebels up 10-0 with 6:04 to play in the first quarter.
Feel of the Game
It's finally college football season. That's all that's needs to be said. Vanderbilt Stadium was packed with a sellout crowd of 40,350, and it was loud. Both sidelines were ready, anxious even, to play football.
Within the first 75 seconds both coaches had shouting matches with officials. There was apparently a headset issue that the officials needed to work out. Later there was a clock malfunction on the North end zone scoreboard. Glitches aside, this game was all about the final nine minutes or so of the game.
Both sides felt elation and pain as the game flip-flopped three times late. Ole Miss took a four-point lead on a Bo Wallace 1-yard touchdown run at the 9:05 mark. Vanderbilt reclaimed the lead at the 1:30 mark on a Steven Scheu 34-yard touchdown catch from Austyn Carta-Samuels.
But the final dagger came with 1:07 to play when Scott, the Ole Miss senior, broke free for a 75-yard score.
The SEC’s shown proof of its college football superiority by winning the last seven national titles. But it’s games like this that show that every team in the conference can be special at any given moment.
Moment that Mattered Most
There were so many moments that were incredibly important in this game.
When Carta-Samuels hit wide receiver Jordan Matthews on a screen pass in the second quarter, and Matthews did the rest to the tune of 55 yards and a touchdown, momentum shifted from the Rebels to the Commodores.
When redshirt freshman defensive end Stephen Weatherly sacked Wallace to stop the next drive on third down in Vanderbilt territory, that seemed like the nail in the Ole Miss coffin. But that was just the second quarter. Who knew then that 50 more points would be scored in the game?
Any of the three lead-changing scores in the fourth quarter could be called the moment that mattered most, but it was the final score that takes the honor, and not just because it ultimately won the game for Ole Miss.
On Scott’s 75-yard touchdown run to seal the deal, Wallace said he almost kept the ball instead of handing it to Scott. Wallace had been making sound decisions in the read-option for the entire game. That final decision was proof the read-option is a huge weapon in his arsenal.