Ole Miss hangs on for wild win over Arkansas

Published 6:12 pm Saturday, October 9, 2021

OXFORD (AP) — Matt Corral promised it would be different this time against No. 13 Arkansas.

The Ole Miss quarterback, who threw six interceptions last year against the Razorbacks, delivered, leading the Rebels to a wild victory that was sealed by the defense.

Sam Williams and Tavius Robinson pressured Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson on a potential game-winning 2-point conversion and No. 17 Ole Miss held on 52-51 Saturday after allowing a touchdown on the final play of regulation.

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Arkansas (4-2, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) scored on a 9-yard pass from Jefferson to Warren Thompson as time expired to pull within a point and decided to go for the win.

Jefferson rolled right and under extended pressure from Williams and Robinson, overthrew Treylon Burks in the end zone.

“However it works, it’s a win,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said. “Obviously, it’s a huge play at the end. Offensively, we did well. I’ve been in games like this before and it’s a lot better when you win.”

Ole Miss (4-1, 1-1) took the lead with 1:07 remaining as Corral threw a 68-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Sanders, accompanied by a soaring clipboard flip by a trailing Kiffin, who was racing down the home sideline.

Arkansas answered with a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to set up the decisive two-point play.

“We had three options on the two-point play,” Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman said. “We could pitch, pass or run and we felt confident. They made the play.”

The frantic final two minutes capped an overwhelming offensive performance by both teams. They combined for 1,287 total yards and 14 touchdowns. Somehow, they punted five times and Ole Miss committed two turnovers.

Corral vowed as far back as SEC Media Day in July to redeem himself against Arkansas: “The next time I play that defense, it’s going to be much different,” he said then.

Corral accounted for four touchdowns, two on runs of 5 and 7 yards, and was 14-of-21 passing for 287 yards.

“Down to the last seconds and them with the ball in their hands and you really don’t want that,” Corral said. “But it was a great football game and a great team win for us.”

Sanders had two receptions for 127 yards, while Henry Parrish Jr. and Snoop Conner rushed for 111 and 110 yards, respectively. Parrish had a career-high yardage total, and Conner scored a career-best three rushing touchdowns.

Sanders’ two catches were the 68-yarder that turned out to be the game-winning touchdown, and a 59-yarder earlier in the fourth quarter where he was tackled at the 1-yard line. Conner scored on the next play to put the Rebels ahead 45-38. The 68-yard touchdown made it 52-45.

“My number was called and I’m supposed to make plays,” Sanders said, adding of the touchdown, “It was a double move and I was able to sell it and run by the defensive back. After that, I knew Matt would see me open. Our defense really stopped up to get the stop at the end.”

Jefferson accounted for six touchdowns, was 25-of-35 passing for 326 yards, and added touchdown runs of 5, 6 and 10 yards. Burks had seven receptions for 136 yards and Raheim Sanders rushed 17 times for 139 yards as the Razorbacks had 676 total yards.

“It was a heck of a football game and we knew we were going for two if we had the chance at the end of the game,” Pittman said. “The difference in the game was we put the ball on the ground once, missed a field goal and they didn’t. We just had too many mistakes on defense.”