Tigers Fall to No. 20 Rebels, 24-20
November 8, 2003
AUBURN, Ala. (AP)-- Ole Miss' Brandon Jacobs had a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:39 left, and Ben Obomanu couldn't hold a pass in the end zone on Auburn's final drive, giving No. 20 Mississippi a 24-20 victory Saturday.
The Rebels moved to 6-0 in the Southeastern Conference for the first time since 1962 and remain in position for their first Western Division title.
It took a brilliant 80-yard drive by Eli Manning and some luck for Ole Miss (8-2, 6-0) to pull off only their second victory over the Tigers (6-4, 4-2) in the last 11 meetings.
On third-and-11, Manning hit Bill Flowers for 16 yards. He came up even bigger on the next third down play, lofting a 49-yard pass to Lorenzo Townsend down the left sideline under pressure.
Two plays later, he set up first-and-goal at the 1 with a 2-yard sneak on third down, and Jacobs jumped into the end zone on the next play.
Then, Auburn and Jason Campbell went to work against the nation's 115th-rated pass defense.
The Tigers drove all the way to the 3, thanks mostly to a terrific 50-yard catch-and-run by Obomanu. On third-and-2, Campbell rolled right and, with two defenders in pursuit, spotted a wide-open Obomanu in the end zone.
The ball hit the sophomore receiver in the numbers and bounced off. On fourth down, a nearly identical play ended with Campbell forced to loft it toward Jeris McIntyre, but Eric Oliver batted it away at the last second.
He also killed the SEC title hopes for the Tigers, heavy preseason favorites after entering the season ranked No. 6.
Ole Miss has its first six-game winning streak since getting seven straight victories in 1990, and the fans remained in their seats cheering the Rebels well after the final whistle.
Every other Western Division team has won the division, and Manning and Co. might be poised to join them.
Manning was 19-of-30 passing for 218 yards and two touchdowns but Ole Miss controlled the ball for more than 33 minutes against the league's No. 2 rushing team.
Campbell was 14 of 26 for 231 yards while Obomanu caught six passes for 150 yards and a 68-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Unable to get their running game going, the Tigers finally went deep against the Rebels' porous pass defense late in the third quarter. Campbell's pass was deflected right into Obomanu's hands for the long touchdown to give Auburn a 17-14 lead with 2:06 left. It was the team's longest pass play of the season.
The Rebels tied it early in the fourth on a 42-yard field goal by Jonathan Nichols.
Campbell promptly led Auburn down the field again, completing a 21-yarder to Anthony Mix and scrambling 20 yards for another first down.
Philip Yost kicked his second field goal, a 30-yarder, with 10:45 remaining.
Manning, who started the fourth 1-of-5 for 1 yard, couldn't move the ball on the next series and Cody Ridgeway shanked a 20-yard punt, giving Auburn the ball at the Ole Miss 40.
The Tigers stalled, and Yost's 32-yard attempt sailed wide left.
Carnell Williams ran 20 times for 103 yards and a 4-yard touchdown for Auburn, but had only 7 yards on his first seven carries of the second half.
Quoting Ole Miss Head Coach David Cutcliffe
“I just want to say that was a great football game. It was a gutsy effort by our kids and by our staff and certainly on Auburn’s part. This was a great Southeastern Conference football game. We saw 15-20 plays that if we hadn’t made them, we wouldn’t have had a chance to win that football game.”
On Eli’s performance on the last drive...
“The whole game he played smart under tough circumstances and a lot of pressure. He took care of the football and he took advantage of opportunities when opportunities presented themselves. He made the plays and that is what he does so well. I can’t say enough about how good he played tonight.”
On the offensive line’s injuries...
“We knew we had some tough matchups coming in. I can’t say enough good things about Auburn’s defense. They’ve got a good scheme and really good players. We had to change some of our protective schemes which made it a little more difficult. We tried to play a little more closely to be honest with you.”
QB Eli Manning
“It is a tough place to come into and play at Auburn. They played physical and smart and the game came down to the last play and our defense just stopped them. I am happy the defense made the stop. I was on the sidelines talking to the wide receivers and offensive line to get a two-minute offense together, but in the end, we didn’t need it.”
“We are in control of our own destiny. We have two tough games ahead of us and the off week is a plus. This is the reason I came back for my senior year to lead this team to Atlanta.”
RB Brandon Jacobs
“It was in my mind from the get-go that I was going to get the ball and score the touchdown. When my number was called, I knew I was going to score and I did.”
“This team is about different players stepping up and making plays each night. Our goal from the start is to win the West and we are in control of that now.”
WR Mario Hill
On the touchdown catch...
“It was a route called a middle clear. I was to run a post and Chris’ (Collins) job was to take the defenders away and they bit. I was open and caught the pass.”
“It feels great to be 6-0. Not many people believe in us, but we believe in ourselves and that is all it takes. We beat a very good Auburn team on the road.”
WR Chris Collins
On the team being 6-0
“It is a wonderful feeling. We knew going into this game that it was going to be tough, however, we kept our focus and came out with a big road win.”
“AU has a great defense and they schemed us very well. They were always jumping on our routes and it seemed they did a great job of film studying.”