By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – The excitement for Texas’ visit to Ole Miss did not extend to the playing field.
While Longhorns fans flooded the Grove, and Bevo camped on the sideline, No. 14 Texas took an early 10-0 lead and was in control throughout in a 66-31 win over Ole Miss before 61,797 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday night.
The 66 points by Texas are the most allowed by Ole Miss since Sewanee scored 69 in 1917.
Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace threw three interceptions, the first returned 22 yards for a touchdown by Texas linebacker Steve Edmond for the game’s first points.
The Longhorns’ speed advantage was evident on defense and in their receivers’ ability to get open against the Rebels’ secondary.
Texas, which won 45-0 last week against New Mexico, had more than 30 points in each half and finished with 676 yards.
“Defensively we were bad. We’ve got to go find out exactly why. Offensively we did some good things and put up some yards on a really good defense,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said.
The Rebels finished with 399 total yards.
“There are some small things that we have to fix together,” Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief said.
Moncrief had seven catches for 144 yards and a touchdown.
Wallace was 13-for-24 passing for 178 yards. It was a different stage for Wallace, who made this third start.
“It was a big game, a loud crowd, and sometimes you’re just not used to it,” Moncrief said.
Longhorns quarterback David Ash was 19-for-23 passing for 326 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Running back Malcolm Brown had 128 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.
Ole Miss was down 10-7 after a 3-yard touchdown run by Randall Mackey with 14 minutes, 54 seconds left in the second quarter, but Texas (3-0) scored on four consecutive possessions, and when Ash passed 1 yard to Ryan Roberson with 12.6 seconds left in the half, the score was 31-10.
“They definitely played better than we did. They’re a talented team, big, physical and fast. I wish we had made plays early in the game to get our crowd and the stadium into it, but we didn’t,” Freeze said.
That streak would continue, and Texas scored on seven straight possessions at one point.
Ball-protection had been one of Wallace’s strengths this season, but his early interception had the Rebels (2-1) climbing uphill from the get-go.
Wallace didn’t see Edmond, who made the catch and scored at the right pylon.
The PAT put the Longhorns up 7-0 with 9:41 left in the first.
Wallace was sacked twice on the Rebels’ next possession, resulting in field position near mid-field for Texas. The Longhorns powered the ball down the field on the ground, but the Rebels stiffened in the red zone.
On third-and-14 from the 15, Ash missed a receiver in the end zone. The Longhorns settled for a field goal and a 10-0 lead with 3:07 left in the period.
Down two possessions, the Rebels stopped the bleeding with a 12-play, 89-yard drive and overcame adversity along the way.
They were forced to accept a 5-yard penalty against Texas when an encroachment was blown dead as opposed to the “free play” that goes with off-sides. Donte Moncrief caught what likely would have been a touchdown pass, but the official stated that the defender caused the offensive lineman to jump, thus killing the play.
The Rebels also overcame a sack with a Wallace completion to Korvic Neat on a third-and-14. Finally, Ole Miss got the points on a 3-yard run by Mackey and trailed 10-7 in the early seconds of the second quarter.
Mackey’s score was off-set when Texas wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who qualified for the London Olympics in the long jump, went 69 yards for a touchdown on an end around. That made it 17-7 with 13:34 left in the half.
Ole Miss got a 39-yard field goal from Bryson Rose, but Texas responded with an Ash touchdown pass of 3 yards with 6:34 left in the second.
“What I told our kids is teams all around the country got beat today, regardless of the score. The thing is, don’t let Texas beat you twice. We have to put this behind us. We can’t let this one beat us twice. We go play Tulane next week,” Freeze said.