Ole Miss lost another heartbreaker to Arkansas on Saturday, 38-37.
The Rebels came out sizzling in the first quarter. On the second play from scrimmage, the Ole Miss offensive line ripped a huge hole and Jordan Wilkins strolled 65 yards untouched into the end zone. Arkansas answered, however, with a methodical thirteen-play scoring drive that evened the game at seven apiece.
The rest of the first quarter was the Jordan Ta’amu show. He orchestrated two touchdown drives, capping off the second one with a 50-yard touchdown sprint. Bret Bielema attempted to counter Ta’amu’s brilliance with this hilarious failure of a trick play, which the Rebel defensive line rightly snuffed out to help put an emphatic end to the first quarter.
The Ole Miss offense continued to pile on points to start the second quarter, with the Rebels adding on a Gary Wunderlich field goal and a second Ta’amu touchdown run. However, Arkansas cashed in on a pair of costly turnovers (Octavious Cooley clearly isn’t accustomed to a carrying a football) to claw back into contention.
Having flipped the momentum shortly before halftime, Arkansas picked up where they left off in the second half, charging down the field for a touchdown on the opening drive. As the clock wound down in the third quarter, it seemed as though the Hogs were destined to take the lead. Luckily for the Rebels, another bit of Bielema trickery (this time in the form of a bizarre sort of basketball dribble on 4th-and-1) failed and allowed the D to get off the field.
With Ole Miss clinging to a 34-28 lead and Arkansas driving early in the fourth quarter, Landshark leaders Marquis Haynes and Demarquis Gates teamed up to force a pivotal fumble. The Rebels subsequently converted a field goal, and a Javien Hamilton interception on the next possession appeared to give the Rebels some security.
Of course, this is Ole Miss, and so no lead is ever safe. On the next play, an inexplicable botched handoff by Jordan Ta’amu resulted in a scoop and score for Arkansas. Ultimately, the outcome of the game fell on the narrow shoulders of Arkansas kicker Connor Limpert. He drilled it, and Arkansas won the game.
Jordan Ta’amu has Phil Longo’s offense humming, at least.
When it was announced last Sunday that Shea Patterson would miss the remainder of the season with a torn PCL, Ole Miss fans were understandably disheartened. After all, Patterson’s prolific passing production was one of the team’s lone bright spots and JUCO transfer Jordan Ta’amu was unproven. Yet, Red Cup Rebellion’s own Gray Hardison presciently predicted that Ta’amu would rise to the occasion. He did that and more on Saturday, passing for 368 yards and tacking on 76 more on the ground and two touchdowns. Ta’amu’s presence as a rushing threat opened up the offense, creating space for Jordan Wilkins, D.K. Metcalf, and company to pick up chunk plays of their own. A trio of turnovers kept the offense from having a perfect day, but on the whole Longo Ball worked well today.
Demarquis Gates needs help at linebacker.
First, it must be acknowledged that Demarquis Gates was an absolute terror on the field Saturday. Involved in seemingly every defensive play, he tallied a team-high 15 tackles with two messed-up shoulders. With that being said, everyone else that attempted to play the linebacker position looked god-awful. Whether it was an out of position Jarrion Street getting screened to hell or Taylor Polk getting repeatedly and resoundingly trucked, the Ole Miss linebacker corps (with the exception of Gates) was pretty pathetic against Arkansas.
This game was classic Ole Miss-Arkansas
Ole Miss attempted to triple ice Arkansas’ kicker on the game-winning field goal attempt and failed to do so. That right there is this entire game.
Whenever Ole Miss and Arkansas get together to play football you can safely expect things to get weird. Today’s contest was another wacky one. Five turnovers, multiple failed trick plays, and about a gazillion momentum changes all added up to one big ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.