NASHVILLE – Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another Monday, leading the Rebels to a 25-17 win over Georgia Tech in the Franklin American Music City Bowl.
As the game’s final seconds ticked away, Rebels fans chanted “S-E-C” in a win that propelled Ole Miss to an 8-5 final season record and gave the conference a 1-0 start to a 2013-2014 bowl season in which a record 10 SEC teams will see postseason action.
The bowl season ends January 6, when Auburn and Florida State meet in the BCS Championship, another SEC vs. ACC showdown.
Wallace, a 6-4, 209-pound junior from nearby Pulaski, Tenn., completed 22 of 32 passes for 256 yards. He also carried 13 times for a team-leading 86 yards rushing in a performance that made him the clear choice for game MVP.
The Music City win provided the QB with a measure of redemption for a frustrating loss to in-state rival Mississippi State. In that 17-10 setback, Wallace threw three interceptions and the Rebels offense managed only one touchdown.
“I had to get that bad taste out of my mouth,” said Wallace, standing on LP Field amid confetti and fireworks. “My teammates all played well. I thought this was the best game of the year for our offensive line.”
Wallace also surpassed Eli Manning in setting school records for total yards (3,701) and most completions (283) in a single season.
Georgia Tech entered the game in similar fashion to Ole Miss, having fallen 41-34 to Georgia in its regular season finale. But the Yellow Jackets could not match the Rebels point-for-point down the stretch. The combined effect of penalties, turnovers, poor field possession and a late safety kept Tech from closing the gap.
Tech ends the year with a 7-6 mark.
In the first quarter, Ole Miss marched down field on an impressive 15-play, 75-yard drive that culminated when Wallace ran off left tack on a 17-yard keeper.
Tech answered with an almost identical opening drive of its own, covering 74 yards in 14 plays. Robert Godhigh, who rushed for a team-high 55 yards on 10 carries, finished the drive with an 8-yard run that tied the game late in the first quarter.
Ole Miss went back in front 13-7 when Donte Moncrief hauled in a 28-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter. Moncrief racked up 113 receiving yards on 6 catches.
The Rebels extended their lead to as much as 23-7 in the second half following Wallace’s second TD carry and a 29-yard field goal from Andre Ritter. The touchdown was set up when the Rebels defense jarred loose the football from Tech quarterback Vad Lee at the Yellow Jackets 44 yard line.
In the fourth quarter Georgia Tech closed to within six points when Harrison Butker kicked a 38-yard field goal and Lee connected with receiver Darren Waller on a 72-yard strike that electrified the Tech faithful.
But Ole Miss closed out the game by forcing a Yellow Jackets fumble that resulted in a safety with just 4:22 remaining. The Rebels then drained most of the clock after taking possession on the ensuing free kick.
Ole Miss has now won its last six consecutive bowl games and 10 of its last 11.
“That’s a streak I didn’t want to mess up,” remarked Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze.
Score by quarter: 1 2 3 4 F
Ole Miss 7 6 10 2 25
Georgia Tech 7 0 0 10 17
UM Bo Wallace 17 run (Andrew Ritter kick) 7-0
GT Robert Godhigh 8 run (Butker kick) 7-7
UM Moncrief 28 pass from Wallace (kick blocked) 13-7
UM Wallace 10 run (Ritter kick) 20-7
UM Ritter 29 field goal 23-7
GT Butker 38 field goal 23-10
GT Waller 72 pass from Vad Lee 23-17
UM Team safety 25-17