Ole Miss football

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 8, 2007

Rebels pull off close season opener

By Angie Ledbetter

The Ole Miss Rebels may have defeated the University of Memphis Tigers on Saturday at the Liberty Bowl stadium for the 2007 season opener, but the stats showed a totally different version.  

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The 23-21 score was a lot closer than the scoreboard revealed.  

The Tigers beat the Rebels in everything but the score, but the “W” is what counts the most for the Rebels. This game was the third straight win against the Memphis Tigers in the season opener for the Rebels and 3-0 under Coach Ed Orgeron.

The Rebels have work to do before they start the long stretch of games facing them in September.

The Tigers had 467 total offense yards on 96 plays and the Rebels had 275 on only 59 plays. The Rebels had 74 rushing yards and the Tigers had 124 yards.

The Tigers passed for 343 yards and the Rebels 201.  

The Rebels got on the scoreboard first when Greg Hardy caught a 16-yard pass from quarterback Seth Adams with 7:09 left in the first quarter of the game.  The PAT by Joshua Shene was good.

In the second quarter with 3:41 on the clock, Kendrick blocked a punt return and scored for the Rebels and the PAT was good by Shene.  With 31 seconds left in the first half of the game, Dustin Mouzon returned a 99-yard interception for a touchdown but the PAT failed.  At the half, the Rebels were up 20-0.

In the third quarter, Joshua Shene kicked a 30- yard field goal to give the Rebels a 23-0 lead.

The rest of the game was all Memphis Tigers. They came to life in the third quarter and the Rebel defense had a hard time stopping them. With 1:28 left in the third quarter, Memphis scored on a Joseph Doss one-yard run. The PAT by Matt Reagan was good to cut the Rebel lead 23-7 at the end of the third quarter.

The fourth quarter of the game was a battle to the very last second of the game. The Tigers scored with 10:16 on the clock on a Malouf four-yard run. Duke Calhoun scored the two-point conversion on a pass from Martin Hankins to bring the Tigers  within eight.

The ballgame was about to take a turn for the Rebels toward the end. Neither the Rebel offense nor defense could get the momentum back that was there in the first half of the game.

With 31 seconds left in the game, Memphis’ Calhoun connected with Hankins on an eight-yard pass to bring the score within two points, 23-21. The Tigers had a chance to tie the game and take it into overtime, but the two-point conversion failed when Martin Hankins’ pass went incomplete.

Ole Miss had three touchdowns, one on offense, one on defense, and one on special teams. Dustin Mouzon tied the third longest interception return in school history with his 99-yard touchdown.

Captains for the game were Jamarca Sanford No. 13, Derrick Davis No. 30, Marshay Green No. 8, and Michael Oher No. 74. Ole Miss had 13 players make their Rebel debut including Batesville’s Chris Strong.

Sanford had five solo tackles and two assists.  He had two pass breakups, one blocked pass and forced one fumble.

Strong had three solo tackles, two assists and one breakup. Peria Jerry had one solo and one assist.

Sanford had his first blocked punt and the ball was recovered in the endzone by Kendrick Lewis for an Ole Miss touchdown.  

This was the first blocked punt for an Ole Miss touchdown since 1995 when Ole Miss played Indiana State.

Following the game, Strong described his first outing as a college football player as “fast.”

The Ole Miss Rebels are set to take on the Missouri Tigers Saturday in the team’s home opener.

Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium/Hollingsworth Field.

The Tigers opened the 2007 season with a 40-34 win over Illinois.