Ole Miss wastes offensive opportunities, loses winnable game against Texas A&M 24-17
OXFORD - A puzzling game from the Ole Miss offense wasted an impressive game from the Ole Miss defense on Saturday night.
Ole Miss fell to 3-5 on the year in a 24-17 loss versus Texas A&M on Saturday. With the loss, Ole Miss will now need to upset either No. 3 LSU or No. 11 Auburn to get to the six-win mark usually required for bowl eligible.
The Rebels' defense played well for most of the night, forcing two turnovers and three three-and-outs and holding Texas A&M to a 3-for-12 performance on third down.
But the Ole Miss offense couldn't find any semblance of a rhythm. Quarterbacks John Rhys Plumlee and Matt Corral combined to throw 14-for-31 with 155 yards and an interception, and a Plumlee fumble led to a Texas A&M touchdown.
Ole Miss' offense ran 10 drivesthat lasted five plays or fewer, only one of which led to points.
How it happened
Ole Miss' defense was opportunistic throughout the first half, coming down with two interceptions to limit Texas A&M's offense. Defensive lineman Austrian Robinson and linebacker Donta Evans intercepted the two passes, giving Ole Miss starting field position on the 31 and 38 yard lines, but the Rebels weren't able to convert either turnover for points.
Plumlee and Corral rotated throughout much of the first half, but Plumlee played as the Rebels' primary quarterback. Other than a 69-yard touchdown run from running back Jerrion Ealy, the offense was borderline immobile in the half, as Ole Miss averaged 3.5 yards per play on all other offensive snaps (the worst offense in the FBS averages 3.8 yards per play).
Corral had two long completions overturned by replay review in the second quarter, both of which would've set Ole Miss up inside the red zone. Plumlee, meanwhile, went 3-for-8 with 28 passing yards and ran for 42 yards in the first half.
Ole Miss regained the lead on a five-play drive to start the second half, capped off by a 2-yard touchdown run by Snoop Conner. Senior running back Scottie Phillips starred on the drive, breaking a 38-yard run on the first play from scrimmage and catching a 22-yard pass from Corral on a pivotal third down.
The Aggies seized the lead back midway through the third quarter when linebacker Buddy Johnson returned Plumlee's fumble 62 yards for a touchdown, giving Texas A&M a 17-14 lead.
After a Corral interception, Texas A&M drove down the field and attempted a chip-shot field goal but missed. It was the fourth combined missed field goal of the game, after both teams missed 50-yard kicks in the first half and Ole Miss had a 35-yard kick blocked in the third quarter.
Ole Miss had ample opportunities to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but settled for two puntswhile trailing by three points. One of the punts was from out of the Ole Miss end zone, but the other came on a 4th-and-2 from the Ole Miss 43-yard line.
Texas A&M scored a touchdown with 2:34 remaining to go up by 10 points and effectively end any chance at a comeback for Ole Miss. The Rebels drove down the field and added a field goal with 26 seconds left to trim the deficit back to one possession.
Ole Miss attempted an onside kick following the field goal. The ball traveled deep into Texas A&M territory after taking a favorable Ole Miss bounce, but ultimately traveled out of bounds, ending Ole Miss' threat.
The Rebels are on bye next week. They will return to action on Nov. 2 when they take on Auburn.Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or [email protected] Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.
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