7:00 PM ET, September 27, 2003
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, MS
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) -- B.J. Symons couldn't be stopped Saturday night -- at least not by one of the nation's worst pass defenses.
Symons, who broke both passing records last Saturday against North Carolina State when he threw for 586 yards in a loss, completed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Carlos Francis with 1:04 left to give Texas Tech (3-1) the victory.
Symons was 44-for-64 with one interception for the third-best passing yardage performance in Division I-A history. Symons' six touchdowns tied a school record set by Kliff Kingsbury in 2002.
Texas Tech came into the game averaging 40.3 points and 439.3 passing yards, while Ole Miss ranked 116th in the nation against the pass at 331.3 yards per game.
Symons said he was not surprised that he threw for over 600 yards with the quality of Texas Tech's receivers.
"It feels really good. Last week, it was a record in a loss, so for it to happen in a win makes me feel like I actually contributed something," Symons said. "This is the best day of my life by far."
Manning was 29-for-49 for 409 yards and three touchdowns, and Jonathan Nichols kicked a school-record six field goals -- also tying a Southeastern Conference mark -- but the Rebels allowed Tech to come from behind.
"Obviously, we've got some problems," Ole Miss coach David Cutcliffe said.
The Rebels took a 45-34 lead on Nichols' sixth field goal with 8:01 remaining, but Symons led Texas Tech on a drive highlighted by a 22-yard pass to Wes Welker, who had 10 receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown.
"They had a good scheme and a good quarterback," Texas Tech defensive lineman Adell Duckett said. "(Manning) hit us for several big plays. He really picked on our corners tonight. It just came down to who made the plays in the fourth quarter."
Welker's catch inside Ole Miss territory led to a 21-yard touchdown pass from Symons to Jarrett Hicks, and the Red Raiders added a 2-point conversion to cut it to 45-42 with 5:01 remaining.
Ole Miss failed to move the ball on its next possession, and the Red Raiders took over with about three minutes left. Symons threw a 21-yard pass to Welker with 1:53 left to move the ball to the Ole Miss 24, then threw a 15-yard strike between two defenders to Welker to set up the winning TD.
"I've never been involved in something quite like that," Cutcliffe said. "I've been involved in some wild games, but this was certainly a game with wild and significant plays."
"We knew we could make things happen and that we would have some more opportunities," Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said. "We kept moving the ball well, and we felt that we could continue to do that and create those opportunities."
It was a close game throughout, but Texas Tech had an opportunity to seize control in the first half.
The Red Raiders were leading 21-13 late in the second quarter and threatening to score from the Ole Miss 23 when the Rebels came up with a big play.
Defensive end Charlie Anderson broke through the line to pressure Symons, forcing him to throw a pass to the flat that was picked off by Kelvin Robinson. Robinson ran 80 yards for a touchdown -- the first of his career -- to cut the lead to 21-19 with 3:28 remaining in the first half.
Ole Miss took the lead after another Texas Tech turnover, Carlos Farcis' fumble on a handoff on a reverse. Oliver recovered, setting up Nichols' 33-yard field goal to put Ole Miss ahead 22-21.
"Turnovers shift the momentum," Duckett said. "It felt like Ole Miss had the momentum the whole game. We had to play four quarters to win."
Manning threw a 14-yard touchdown to Kerry Johnson with 4:23 left in the third quarter to give Ole Miss a 39-27 lead, but the Rebels managed only two field goals the rest of the way.
"We should have scored more than 45," Manning said. "You can't play a game and kick six field goals. We were in the red zone so many times and didn't put the ball in the end zone. The whole team is frustrated. Nobody likes losing."
Chris Collins broke the Mississippi career reception record on the Rebels' opening drive. Collins' catch gave him 143 career receptions.