Ole Miss Football Falls in Sugar Bowl

Published 11:51 am Monday, January 3, 2022

NEW ORLEANS — The Ole Miss football team refused to quit in the face of adversity after losing their leader early in Saturday’s Allstate Sugar Bowl game. In the end, the Baylor Bears used a late surge to knock off the Rebels 21-7 inside the Caesars Superdome.

After being thrust into relief after an injury to Matt CorralLuke Altmyer completed 15 of 29 passes for 174 yards and threw a second-half touchdown pass to Braylon SandersJerrion Ealy led the Rebels on the ground with 65 yards on 12 carries while Dontario Drummond had 104 yards and nine catches through the air. Defensively, Chance Campbell had 10 tackles, five over teammates Otis Reese and Cedric Johnson, who each had five. Miles Battle had the only turnover for Ole Miss with a second-half interception. The defense kept Baylor’s offense out of the end zone for three quarters but overcame an early slugfest thanks to a bruising ground game and stingy defense.

The Rebels wanted the ball first to start the game and turned the ball over almost immediately. Two plays into the game, Matt Corral threw deep and was picked off by Baylor’s JT Woods. It wouldn’t be long until the offense got the ball back. The Bears decided to try and extend their drive, facing 4th-and-2 on their own 46-yard line. However, a great open-field tackle by Finley forced a turnover on downs with 13:03 left in the opening quarter.

Both teams traded punts before the Rebels reached the Baylor 21-yard line and threatened to draw first blood late in the first quarter. A sack of Corral forced a 49-yard field goal by Cale Nation, which fell short. On the previous third-down play, Corral was helped off the field with an apparent leg injury and did not return.

On the first play of the second quarter, the Rebel defense recorded yet another turnover on downs, giving new quarterback Altmyer the ball on Baylor’s 40-yard line. The Rebels used the ground game to get inside the Baylor red zone, but a tipped ball was intercepted by Al Walcott and returned 96 yards the other way for a Bears touchdown. With 10:16 left in the second quarter, Baylor led 7-0.

After a series of punts, the Bears had 55 seconds to add to their lead before the half. The Rebel defense made sure the score would remain the same going into the locker room. In what was a pure defensive first half, the Bears had a slim 140-120 yardage advantage over the Rebels. Both teams were able to muster a combined 57 yards through the air and went 3-17 on third down.

The punting continued through the first few possessions of the third quarter. However, with 9:13 left in the third quarter, the Rebels finally broke through. Altmyer connected on a 37-yard deep ball to Sanders for the game’s first offensive touchdown, tying the game at seven apiece.

Baylor responded with two third-down conversions to get into Rebel territory, but the Rebel defense made another massive stop — sending the Superdome into a frenzy. Gerry Bohanon threw a high deep ball to his man, but Battle found himself at the right place at the right time and came away with a spectacular interception in the end zone. Altmyer proceeded to use two clutch third-down throws and a fourth-down conversion to reach the Baylor 23-yard line going into the final quarter of the season.

Baylor later forced Nation to kick a 35-yard field goal, but the attempt sailed right. The Bears immediately capitalized and retook the lead with their first offensive touchdown of the evening. After a third-down conversion, Monara Baldwin took a jet sweep right side and raced 48 yards to the end zone. The Bears led 14-7 with 11:14 left to play.

In an attempt to respond, Altmyer threw another interception to Woods, and the Bears extended their lead five plays later. Bohanon found R.J. Sneed in the flat for a two-yard score, giving the Bears a 21-7 lead with 7:24 left in the season. The Rebels quickly made their way into Baylor territory with a sense of urgency, but a sack and a turnover on downs sealed the Sugar Bowl victory for the Bears. The Rebels finish the 2021 season with a record of 10-3.

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