Tennessee Comeback Falls Short As Kiffin's Ole Miss Rebels Prevail, 31-26

Sunday, October 17, 2021
Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) sets to throw against Ole Miss saturday night at Neyland Stadium. Darnell Wright (58) and Ollie Lane (78) provide protection. The Vols lost, 31-26, and Hooker had to leave the game late in the fourth quarter with an injury.
Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) sets to throw against Ole Miss saturday night at Neyland Stadium. Darnell Wright (58) and Ollie Lane (78) provide protection. The Vols lost, 31-26, and Hooker had to leave the game late in the fourth quarter with an injury.
- photo by Tennessee Athletic Communications

Heisman candidate Matt Corral completed 21 of 38 passes for 231 yards and threw two touchdown passes, but the story of the night is what he did with his legs. Corral had a career-high 195 yards on the ground as Ole Miss silenced a hostile Tennessee crowd and left town with a wild 31-26 victory over the Volunteers.

In total, Corral made up 426 of 510 total yards for the Rebels. Henry Parrish Jr. also helped the cause with 41 rushing yards on 10 carries while Snoop Conner had two rushing touchdowns. Through the air, Dontario Drummond led Ole Miss with 66 receiving yards on just two catches. Drummond and Dannis Jackson each caught a touchdown from Corral, with Jackson's being the first of his Rebel career.

Right out of the gate, the Rebels caught a big break. After a pair of holding penalties forced them to punt, the Tennessee return man dropped the ball and Tylan Knight pounced on it at the Volunteer 11-yard line. Ole Miss immediately took advantage of the miscue, with Conner later scoring a goal-line touchdown. Just over five minutes into the opening quarter, the Rebels held a 7-0 lead.

The Rebel defense proceeded to force a quick three-and-out, but miscommunication on another fourth-down attempt gave Tennessee the ball back at midfield. The Vols went three-and-out once again, setting up Ole Miss inside their own 10. Tennessee would eventually get points, but on defense. In the shadow of his own goal post, pressure up the middle forced Corral to throw the ball away, which resulted in an intentional grounding call and a safety. Tennessee cashed in three plays later. Hendon Hooker connected with Cedric Tillman from 16 yards out and Tennessee had its first lead of the game, 9-7 with 3:51 left in the first quarter.

Corral used his arm and legs as Ole Miss responded. After stalling in the red zone, Caden Costa connected on a 30-yard field goal with 44 seconds left in the first quarter, giving Ole Miss a slim 10-9 lead. Springer capped off a wild first quarter with a sack of Hooker. The Rebels led by one.

Ole Miss added onto that shortly afterwards. After converting on fourth and third downs, respectively, Corral found Dannis Jackson on a 33-yard pump-and-go route for six. With 11:27 left in the second quarter, the Rebels led 17-9. That touchdown catch was Jackson's first of his career.

Ole Miss went right back to work offensively following another sack, forcing a punt. The Rebels drive 91 yards down field, and with the help of a 50-yard catch and run by Drummond, Conner scored his second goal-line TD of the game. The Rebels then had a 24-9 lead with 5:30 left in the first half. The Vols proceeded to use tempo to get into Ole Miss territory, but a few shaky plays and pass breakup by Miles Battle forced another punt with the ball inside their own 10 yet again with 2:26 left in the half.

Despite a pair of first downs, the Rebels eventually punted the football away and pinned Tennessee down at its own 15-yard line with 53 seconds left until halftime. With a sense of urgency, Hooker led a late charge down field with big throws, ultimately resulting in a 39-yard field goal by Chase McGrath going into the locker room.

At the break, Corral had more offensive yards (261) than Tennessee's entire team, who finished with 141. Almost half of Tennessee's yards came on the final drive of the half. Corral had 164 yards through the air while completing 12 of 24 passes and 97 yards on the ground. The Rebel offense played keep away from Tennessee, keeping possession almost 10 minutes more than the opposition. The defensive side of the ball recorded a total of four sacks, with Robinson getting two of them. Robinson himself led Ole Miss with six tackles. The Vols were only able to muster 42 yards on the ground.

Despite that, their sliver of momentum carried over into the second half with their best drive of the night at that point. Hooker connected with Tillman early in their opening drive while a big run by Jabari Small and catch by Velus Jones Jr. set up a goal-line touchdown courtesy of Small. With 12:28 left in the third quarter, it was a one-score, 24-19 Ole Miss lead. Corral responded by converting three third downs, two with his legs and one to Casey Kelly. However, a false start penalty inside Tennessee's 30-yard line put the Rebels behind schedule and forced Costa to kick another field goal. Costa's 44-yard attempt failed wide right and the Volunteers took over at their own 27 with 7:11 left in the third quarter.

Tennessee continued to remain hot offensively as Hooker used his legs to get yards and lead the Vols into Rebel territory. After a few good defensive plays on Small and a third-down incompletion, Tennessee came away empty-handed, also with a missed field goal. Ole Miss seized on the opportunity as Corral continued his dominant night on the ground and capped off an eight-play, 65-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Drummond. With 1:55 left in the third quarter, the Rebels again held a 12-point lead.

The second half hot streak for Tennessee continued with Hooker again using his legs to get the Vols within one score. Hooker capped off the drive with a five-yard rushing TD and the lead went back down to five with 13:41 left in the fourth quarter. The Rebels made their way to midfield, but Corral threw his first interception of the season on a tipped pass to Trevon Flowers, giving Tennessee a golden opportunity to take the lead with 11:37 left to play. The Vols failed to capitalize after a hole created by a holding penalty forced a punt, giving the Rebels a much-needed stop and the football with 7:37 left in the game.

Ole Miss took over three minutes off the clock, lost Corral for a play due to injury and had to punt the ball away. Hooker and the Volunteers had the ball with 4:08 left on their own 10-yard line. Hooker and the rest of the Tennessee offense got off to a good start, but a sack by Sam Williams and holding call eventually led to a 4th-and-24 play on the Volunteer 36-yard line. Hooker found Jacob Warren over the middle, but a clutch tackle by Otis Reese stopped Warren just one yard short of the first down marker.

Ole Miss took over at its own 41-yard line with 54 seconds left. Tennessee had three timeouts to spare. However, play stopped for roughly 20 minutes as fans threw bottles, trash and other objects onto the playing field. The entire Ole Miss sideline evacuated onto the field while law enforcement and security detail attempted to handle the situation in the stands.

Play eventually resumed, but the Rebels had to punt the football away, giving Tennessee one final chance with 27 seconds left. The Volunteers started at the Ole Miss 47-yard line following a punt return by Jones. Hooker rushed for 14 yards on the first play of the drive, but had to leave the game with 18 seconds let after going down injured. The Rebel defense held on for the final three plays to escape with victory.


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