By Parrish Alford | NEMS Daily Journal
AUBURN, Ala. – The third quarter proved to be the undoing for Ole Miss yet again, even if it was not in such an overwhelming fashion.
Auburn capped a 66-yard drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Clint Moseley on third-and-8, allowing the Tigers to regain a lead from a 17-all halftime tie.
Auburn used its after-halftime momentum to take a 41-23 win before 85,347 fans at Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday night.
The loss was the 11th-straight in SEC play for the Rebels (2-6, 0-5 SEC). They had been outscored 47-0 in the third quarter in their two previous games, losses to No. 2 Alabama and then-No. 10 Arkansas.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt pledged a more competitive start to the second half – and he got that, but it wasn’t enough. Nutt had the Rebels come out for stretch and warm-ups with about 6 minutes left in the halftime break.
“We wanted to get a spark going in the third quarter. We made a point all week to play a good third quarter,” Nutt said.
Ole Miss had three turnovers that led directly to 13 Auburn points.
“You can’t turn the ball over. You can’t give them gifts and field position,” Nutt said. “I thought we weathered that storm (in the first half), and we started moving the ball, started running the ball. We felt like we could run the ball on these guys, and at halftime we were right there.”
Ole Miss did run the ball, finishing with 220 as a team, 114 on 13 carries from Brandon Bolden, who also scored on two 1-yard runs.
However, a Rebels’ defense that limited Auburn to 76 rushing yards in the first half saw the Tigers get better line surge and more production after halftime. Auburn finished 254 rushing yards including 44 on a drive that ended with a one-handed touchdown catch by Phillip Lutzenkirchen with 4:49 remaining.
Moseley’s pass to Emory Blake put Auburn (6-3, 4-2) ahead 24-17 with 7:22 seconds left in the period.
Safety Damien Jackson bit on a fake, and Blake was wide open.
“The guy kind of took his eyes off the man. We had good pressure on the play. The quarterback pumped once. He wanted to go to the underneath deal, and then he saw it all of a sudden and kind of floated it out there. Sometimes you don’t get that break or that bounce, and that’s the break we were looking for, the break we needed,” Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix said.
The Rebels crossed midfield on their next possession, but the drive stalled when Randall Mackey was called for intentional grounding on third down from the Auburn 48. Ole Miss punted from its 32.
Making them pay
Auburn made the Rebels pay. A 48-yard run by Michael Dyer moved the ball to the Ole Miss 4, and Dyer scored from the 1 three plays later. Dyer ran 27 times for 177 yards and a touchdown.
The Tigers had a 14-0 edge for the quarter and a commanding 31-17 lead to begin the fourth. The running total for the Rebels’ third-quarter blues has now stretched to 61-0 over the last three games.
If the third quarter did not remove all doubt, a Mackey fumble early in the fourth did. Auburn cashed in with a 31-yard field goal, the second of the night by Cody Parkey, and a 34-17 lead with 11:47 to play.
The Rebels didn’t give up a long touchdown run in the first two quarters – as they did last week against Arkansas – and got to halftime even at 17.
Auburn averaged better than 10 yards a play and had two touchdowns after its first two possessions.
The Rebels trailed 14-0 early, but Bolden’s tackle-breaking 38-yard run set up his own 1-yard touchdown, and it was 14-7 with 1:09 left in the first.
Auburn fumbled on its third possession, and Ole Miss got a 39-yard field goal from Bryson Rose to make it 14-10 at the 14:45 mark of the second.
Mackey was big on a 60-yard touchdown drive late in the second period. He had a 12-yard completion to tight end Ferbia Allen and runs of 11 and 10 yards to get Ole Miss to the 1. From there, Bolden went off the left side untouched, and it was 17-17 with 6:04 left in the half.
The Tigers capitalized on a Nick Brassell fumble on the Rebels’ first possession. They covered 40 yards in six plays and scored when Moseley passed 13 yards to H-back Phillip Lutzenkirchen on third down from the 13.
Moseley hit Quindarius Carr with a 45-yard pass for the Tigers’ second touchdown and a 14-0 lead at the 4:21 mark of the first. That capped a seven-play, 92-yard drive.
Auburn got a 40-yard field goal by Parkey with 9:52 left in the half, gaining possession after a Mackey interception.