OXFORD - Halfway through the fourth quarter the Rebels had a lead, another chance to grab the monkey with both hands and get him off their backs.
The lead was only seven points, far too unstable - especially given the events of a week ago in a dramatic loss to Texas Aamp&M - to feel comfortable with the idea that the 16-game SEC losing streak was minutes from extinction.
Then on third-and-16 from the Ole Miss 44, quarterback Bo Wallace found running back Jeff Scott over the middle.
Scott was taken down, but never touched the ground. He bounced up, completed a 55-yard touchdown play and applied the dagger to streak of humiliation more than two years in the making.
The Rebels had last defeated an SEC opponent in 42-35 win here against Kentucky on Oct. 2, 2010.
Ole Miss went on to blow out struggling Auburn 41-20 before a happy Vaught-Hemingway Stadium homecoming crowd of 57,068 Saturday afternoon.
"Getting that monkey off, where our kids don't have to hear, our students and fans, our administration don't have to hear how long will this SEC streak go ... it's big to get that out of the way," Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze. "Now we don't have to talk about that any more. Let's talk about getting ready to compete against Arkansas and the other teams on our schedule."
The Wallace-to-Scott connection made it 34-20 after the PAT with 5 minutes, 2 seconds left.
Linebacker Mike Marry picked off Auburn quarterback Clint Moseley on the Tigers' ensuing possession, and Wallace scored from the 2 three plays later.
Wallace was 17 for 22 passing for 226 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. He rushed 15 times for 39 yards and two touchdowns and scored a touchdown on a 25-yard pass from Randall Mackey.
For the first time, Bo Wallace played a turnover-free game, and the Rebels (4-3, 1-2 SEC) had no turnovers as a team.
Scott, meanwhile, averaged 6.5 yards a carry - 137 rushing yards on 21 attempts.
"The guy wrapped me up, took me down and rolled me. I thought about two years ago when Auburn was playing in the national championship, the same thing happened to Michael Dyer. When he turned me over I just tried to push up and keep running," Scott said. "As soon as they blew the whistle to challenge the play, I immediately told everybody, 'It's a touchdown.'"
Wallace and Scott made the plays, but they had to wait till the second half to do it.
Auburn (1-5, 0-4) had success getting its running backs around the corner in the first half and stormed back from a 14-0 deficit with 17 unanswered points.
The Rebels got a late 28-yard field goal from Bryson Rose to make it 17-all at the half. The 17 Ole Miss points included a sack, forced fumble and recovery in the Auburn end zone for end C.J. Johnson.
Auburn had 20:46 of possession time in the first half to 9:14 for Ole Miss. In the second half, the Tigers had 60 yards and a field goal.
Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said over-running some gaps led to bad fits for his players in the first half.
In the second half, Wallace scored from the 1 to cap a 73-yard drive and moved the Rebels 58 yards to let Rose answer the Auburn field goal and keep Ole Miss a touchdown ahead.
While the Rebels worked to get past the disappointment of opportunity lost against Texas Aamp&M, Wallace found out Monday his sister, Baylee Wallace, had suffered a spinal injury in a car wreck. Prospects for recovery are good, but there were tense moments early.
"She was texting me the whole time and telling me to worry about beating Auburn. It was tough to sit there and watch film and be really focused in," Wallace said. "I had to take my mind off of it. It's a great way to end an emotional week."
Read more and see more photos in Sunday's NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.
OLE MISS 41, AUBURN 20
Auburn 0 17 3 0—20
Ole Miss 14 3 7 17—41
Miss_Wallace 25 pass from Mackey (Rose kick), 7:14.
Miss_Johnson recovered fumble in end zone (Rose kick), 5:39.
Aub_Mason 1 run (Parkey kick), 13:56.
Aub_Mason 6 run (Parkey kick), 5:56.
Aub_FG Parkey 46, 1:00.
Miss_FG Rose 28, :00.
Miss_Wallace 1 run (Rose kick), 13:53.
Aub_FG Parkey 31, 4:38.
Miss_FG Rose 39, 13:28.
Miss_Je.Scott 55 pass from Wallace (Rose kick), 5:02.
Miss_Wallace 2 run (Rose kick), 3:26.
First downs 13 22
Rushes-yards 41-101 42-200
Passing 112 251
Comp-Att-Int 11-18-1 18-23-0
Return Yards 4 38
Punts-Avg. 7-46.7 4-41.0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 6-38 3-15
Time of Possession 34:20 25:40
RUSHING_Auburn, Mason 18-82, McCalebb 8-31, Wallace 6-14,
Prosch 1-4, Moseley 7-(minus 2), Team 1-(minus 28). Mississippi,
Je.Scott 21-137, Wallace 15-39, Walton 2-16, Mackey 2-6, Mathers 1-4,
Team 1-(minus 2).
PASSING_Auburn, Moseley 11-18-1-112. Mississippi,
Wallace 17-22-0-226, Mackey 1-1-0-25.
RECEIVING_Auburn, Blake 4-38, Lutzenkirchen 2-9, Coates 1-42,
Stallworth 1-10, Prosch 1-8, Reed 1-4, McCalebb 1-1. Mississippi,
Moncrief 4-27, Je.Scott 3-70, Logan 3-51, Allen 2-30, Mosley 2-11,
Wallace 1-25, Mackey 1-22, Neat 1-9, Sanders 1-6.