Most of the time we work in a protected environment, but that wasn’t the case at the end of the Ole Miss-Alabama game in 2007.
Ed Orgeron had three SEC wins in three seasons, never one over a big-name team. This one was a real chance.
In a frantic comeback after falling behind late, the Rebels converted an improbable fourth down with a long pass from Seth Adams to Michael Hicks. With less than a minute left Adams connected with Shay Hodge for a completion that appeared to move the Rebels to the Alabama 4.
Prior to that Adams also converted a third-and-12 with a 20-yard pass to Mike Wallace and followed that up with a completion to Dexter McCluster on a crossing pattern. VHS was buzzing with the Rebels getting close to field goal range.
That would have tied the game.
But the Hodge catch – apparent catch – opened up a new world of possibilities.
As it turned out, it was ruled that Hodge went out of bounds of his own accord, not because of the sideline bumping with an Alabama defender. Hodge was the first player to make contact with the football upon coming back in bounds. That, of course, is illegal.
Before the play was overturned the ball was placed at the Alabama 4 with with 7 seconds left. The Rebels were down by 3. At the very least, it appeared that overtime was on the way. Orgeron was going to take a shot at the win, risking a loss if the play lasted 7 seconds or longer. He had plans to throw the fade to Greg Hardy, a two-way player at the time.
When officials announced that the play was overturned, bedlam. Debris rained down from the stadium. I was already standing in the south end zone. I backed up close to the padding on the wall just behind the goalposts. If I was going to get hit it was going to take a strange angle.
I managed to avoid the cups and fluids as well as famous red shoes.
Richard Cross, an Oxford native and Ole Miss grad, was working the game as an analyst for CSS that day and called for class from Ole Miss fans.
Orgeron was surprisingly calm after the play was reversed, but Alabama escaped with a 27-24 win.