By Jim Vertuno
AP Sports Writer
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Jeff Scott ran for 164 yards and a touchdown and also scored on a 73-yard punt return, helping No. 25 Ole Miss roll over reeling Texas 44-23 on Saturday night.
Bo Wallace passed for two touchdowns and ran for another for the Rebels (3-0), who led 14-0 midway through the first quarter before Texas scored 23 straight points.
The Rebels rallied when Andrew Ritter kicked a 52-yard field goal on the last play of the first half and Wallace directed consecutive touchdown drives in the third quarter. Scott eluded six tacklers on a weaving, cross-field touchdown return that put the Rebels ahead 37-23 late in the third.
Texas, which gave up 550 yards rushing a week earlier in a loss to BYU, surrendered 274 on the ground to Ole Miss.
Case McCoy started at quarterback for Texas (1-2) in place of injured David Ash and passed for 196 yards and one touchdown.
For Mississippi, a road win at a historical powerhouse such as Texas will be another confidence boost under second-year coach Hugh Freeze. The Rebels are ranked for the first time since 2009, are 3-0 for the first time since 1989 and have a week off before playing at No. 1 Alabama.
The victory also served as some payback for last season, when a young Rebels defense was blistered by the Longhorns’ speed and big plays in a 66-31 loss at home.
For Texas, the loss will turn up the heat on coach Mack Brown, who is facing the most serious grumbling from a restless fan base in his 16 seasons in Austin. After three sub-par seasons, the Longhorns had hopes of contending for the Big 12 title and returning to the national stage, but an embarrassing loss a week ago at BYU led Brown to fire defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.
Brown brought back Greg Robinson, the Longhorns’ defensive coordinator in 2004. Texas was more aggressive against the Rebels, but still gave up big yards rushing and surrendered a halftime lead when it looked as if the Longhorns were firmly in control. The offense stumbled as well, gaining just 100 yards in the second half.
And Mississippi is just the latest visiting team to wallop Texas on its home turf. The Longhorns are 11-10 at home since 2010, including seven consecutive losses to ranked opponents.
The Rebels scored on their first two drives for a quick 14-0 lead. Wallace and Scott carved up the Longhorns on the read option and Scott scored on a 5-yard run before Wallace connected with Donte Moncrief on an 18yard touchdown pass.
At one point in the first half, a pre-recorded message from Brown on the scoreboard video screen was greeted with audible boos from the crowd of 101,474, the third-largest in school history.
Texas fought back with 23 straight points. The defense recovered a Wallace fumble, knocked down a fourth-down pass and McCoy started connecting on short passes. After Mike Davis scored Texas’ first touchdown on a 13-yard reception, Jonathan Gray ran 8 yards for a touchdown that gave Texas a 17-14 lead.
The Rebels retook the lead on two impressive drives in the third. Ole Miss returned to the dominant running game it had early and Wallace scored on a 15-yard run when he spun through two defenders at the goal line. After a Texas punt, Wallace found Evan Engram for a 17-yard scoring pass.
Scott’s punt return was the dagger. He eluded two defenders immediately after the catch, moved to his left and had a wall of blockers to the end zone for a touchdown and a 37-23 at the end of the third quarter.