OXFORD – A victory celebration for Ole Miss was delayed several minutes while a Tennessee player was tended by medical personnel for a possible neck injury.
Ultimately strong-side Vols’ linebacker LaMarcus Thompson showed movement in his arms and legs as he was being taken off the field on a stretcher.
He was taken to Baptist Hospital in Oxford, where tests were negative, and Thompson returned to Knoxville with the team Saturday night.
Thompson was injured on a player near the goalline late in the fourth quarter.
On the first play after the delay, Ole Miss tailback Brandon Bolden rushed behind the right offensive line for a 4-yard touchdown.
Big day for run game
– The Vols have been pretty stingy against the run this season and throughout their history. McCluster’s 282 yards were the most by an opponent against Tennessee. The previous best was 217 yards gained by Alabama’s Bobby Humphrey in 1986 and by Colorado’s Mike Pritchard in 1990.
The previous Ole Miss single-game rushing record was 242 yards by Dou Innocent against Mississippi State in 1995.
The previous record for all-purpose yards was 317 set by Deuce McAllister against Arkansas in 1999.
McCluster has topped 100 yards rushing and 200 all-purpose yards in three of the last four games. He played only two plays against Northern Arizona as coaches basically gave him a week off.
Big day for defense
– Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix was pleased with the play of his unit, which had shown a trend for giving up big plays the previous two weeks against Auburn and Northern Arizona.
“We had some breakdowns here and there, but we were much better as a unit,” Nix said.
Tennessee began the day fifth in the SEC in total offense with 400.2 yards a game but was held to 275 yards.
Tailback Montario Hardesty was held to 55 yards, 45 below average.
The Rebels had nine tackles for loss, three each by ends Kentrell Lockett and Emmanuel Stephens.
Linebacker Jonathan Cornell and free safety Kendrick Lewis each had a career-high 11 stops.
– The key drive was actually just one play. McCluster ran 71 yards to the end zone, using possible 200 yards of real estate along the way on a play that will no doubt be shown on video highlights for years to come. The touchdown made it 35-17 and gave the Rebels a three-possession lead early in the fourth quarter.
– “We had to do a bunch of stuff like changing formations to slow them down. There was a big difference there, and we got exposed today.” – Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin on the Ole Miss pass rush.
– The Rebels are at home against LSU with a 2:30 kickoff for CBS television.
– Ole Miss blocked two field goals against Northern Arizona last week, and now has three in two games. … The Rebels have held opposing offenses under 300 yards five times this season, four times in SEC games and nine times under Nix as coordinator … WR Shay Hodge had five catches for 77 yards. He’s had at least five catches in seven games this season. … QB Jevan Snead failed to throw a touchdown pass for the second time this season. … The Rebels were also 6-4 and 3-3 at this point last season.
Parrish Alford/ NEMS Daily Journal