LITTLE ROCK — It had to be a wild game when Ole Miss and Arkansas get together.
This time it was on a cold, rainy night in War Memorial Stadium that was more suited for duck hunting, but it was yet another in a series that has seen wild and crazy finishes, improbably comebacks and surprising blowouts.
This one had a little bit of it all.
At the end, Arkansas’ defense couldn’t get one more stop against a high-powered Rebels’ offense that backfired much of the night.
This time Scottie Phillips ran it in from 5 yards out with 42 seconds left and Ole Miss won for the first time since 2013 against the Hogs, 37-33.
“We didn’t help ourselves out,” Chad Morris said in the post-mortem after the game. “All year long if you asked what unit wanted on the field with 97 yards to go, I would take (our defense).”
Last year it was Ole Miss that blew a huge lead as Arkansas came back for a huge win. This time the tables turned the other way.
You could feel it starting midway through the third period after Arkansas had managed to drive twice, but couldn’t convert on third down and Connor Limpert kicked field goals of 38 and 36 yards around a 66-yard pass from Jordan Ta’amu to Octavious Cooley.
After all that, the Hogs still were leading 33-24 going into the final period.
“Our special teams unit of Limpert, (holder) Jack Lindsey and (snapper) Jordan Silver really did some good things,” Morris said later.
It just wasn’t enough, mainly because things started falling apart in the fourth quarter.
After missing a 28-yard field goal on the third play of the final quarter, Ole Miss scored touchdowns on it’s next two possessions.
Storey was knocked out of the game when he didn’t step out of bounds on a second-and-10 scramble and was nailed by Ole Miss free safety Zedrick Woods.
“That’s what’s made him the competitor that he is,” Morris said later. “He was trying to get the first down. The first thing he asked me when I got out there was, ‘did we get the first down?’”
Morris didn’t know what his status was immediately after the game.
“We’ll come back and look at it,” he said. “Tomorrow we’ll re-evaluate things.”
On the Rebels’ last two drives, they had just one third down. It was a unit that was simply unable to keep up.
“We let some guys get loose up the sideline and we didn’t tackle very well,” Morris said.
This is yet another fourth-quarter collapse by the Hogs in a scenario that is becoming far too familiar for fans … and probably coaches.
“The biggest thing we’ve gotta do is go back to work,” Morris said. “Our formula is not going to change. We’ve gotta win plays. That was our message at halftime: We’ve gotta win more plays in second half than they do. Can’t let one play affect the next play.”
And, for whatever reason, they couldn’t do that.
For a Hogs’ team that had been showing steady improvement, this one may qualify as that, especially considering the loss of quarterback Ty Storey and running backs Rakeem Boyd and Devwah Whaley that completely changed the complexion of the game.
Arkansas got a big return after the score by De’Vion Warren, but they called extended blocking by a Razorbacks, ignoring the late hit out of bounds by Ole Miss.
That put the Hogs back at the 28-yard line and Cole Kelley threw an interception down the middle on first down and that was the ballgame.
In the second half, Ole Miss scored three touchdowns. All the Hogs could muster was a pair of field goals by Connor Limpert.
Arkansas had 476 yards of offense while Ole Miss had a gaudy 613 yards, 329 yards of it coming in the second half.
Until getting knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter, Storey was 12-of-16 passing with no interceptions and a touchdown. In addition, Storey had 70 yards rushing, but it was the final run that knocked him out of the game.
Ole Miss got on the board after taking the opening kickoff and driving 56 yards in six plays, but the Razorback defense stiffened and Luke Logan came on to kick a 36-yard field goal with 12:49 left in the opening period.
Storey completed a third-down pass to Boyd for 38 yards to Rebels’ 35. The Hogs completed a fourth-and-1 at the Ole Miss 26 with Kelley going up the middle, but the drive stalled and Limpert kicked the first of his field goals, a 43-yarder, to tie the game at 3-3 with 7:41 remaining in the first quarter.
The Hogs’ defense got a three-and-out from the defense, then the running backs took over in a drive that started at the Arkansas 22 with Boyd rushing for 31 yards, Whaley had 8 and Storey passed to Cheyenne O’Grady for a 39-yard score with 3:24 left. Limpert’s point-after gave Arkansas a 10-3 lead.
The Razorbacks got another score just before the end of the quarter when Boyd broke free for a 69-yard run to make it 17-3 heading into the second period.
Both teams traded scores, the Hogs scoring on a 39-yard pass from Kelley to Pettway from 39 yards out with 10:50 to go in the first half that made it 24-10.
Ole Miss’ Logan missed a 45-yarder, Limpert made a 38-yarder with 2:36 left in the half to push Arkansas’ lead to 27-10.
Just before the end of the half, Ole Miss drove 77 yards in 10 plays, using just 2:03 to pull within 10 on a 6-yard pass from Ta’amu to Lodge with 33 seconds left.
All of that set up the second half.
The loss dropped Arkansas to 1-6 overall on the season and 0-4 in the SEC. Ole Miss moved to 5-2 overall and 1-2 in the league.
The Razorbacks will host Tulsa next week for homecoming in Fayetteville in a game televised on the SEC Network, kicking off at 11 a.m.