Rebels vow to repair miscues|[10/18/05]
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 18, 2005
OXFORD – The Ole Miss Rebels had a third-and-goal at the Alabama 2-yard line.
The Rebels trailed by three points, but had controlled the game throughout. Micheal Spurlock and Mico McSwain had gone up and down the field, with only a touchdown to show for it.
But there they were, two yards from taking the lead on the sixth-ranked team in the country and Spurlock, a senior signal caller from Indianola, failed to read the game clock.
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Not once, but twice.
Instead of having six feet to go for the lead, the Rebels faced a daunting third down play from the 12. They gained six yards, setting up a tying field goal.
“There is no excuse for that to happen,” first-year Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron said. “We need to find out if we need to change some plays that the guys can understand. I don’t know if it was a miscommunication in the huddle or what, but we will fix it.”
With the game tied, the teams exchanged possessions twice before Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle led the team on a 62-yard drive to set up Jamie Christensen’s game-winning field goal.
The delay penalties were not only on Ole Miss. Alabama had a pair of delay calls during the game, but none as costly as the Rebels’ two.
“One of those was on me all the way,” Alabama coach Mike Shula said. “I think the referees were a little fast. Not that that is wrong, but they were fast. You have to be able to adjust to that.”
The delays marred an otherwise productive game from both the Ole Miss offense and defense. Spurlock threw for 210 yards and a touchdown. He had time to throw, did not toss any interceptions and was not sacked.
“We knew everyone was going to take care of their business and that’s what happens when you go out an execute,” Spurlock said. “We were right there close, but close wasn’t good enough.”
McSwain, a bruising freshman running back, led the Rebels with 60 yards on 27 carries.
Defensively, Ole Miss held Alabama 16 points under its average and limited a stable of running backs to 121 yards rushing as a team. Kenneth Darby was held to 84 yards rushing – 48 of those coming on a second-half touchdown.
“We went out there and played good defense for most of the game, but it wasn’t quite good enough,” said Ole Miss linebacker Patrick Willis, who led the Rebels with 15 tackles, two tackles for loss, 1 1/2 sacks and a pass breakup.