Vanderbilt 23

(0-2, 0-2 SEC)

Ole Miss 26

(1-2, 1-1 SEC)

Coverage: GamePlan

12:30 PM ET, September 18, 2004

Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, MS

1 2 3 4 OT T
VAN 10 6 7 0 023
MISS 10 0 3 10 326

Top Performers

Passing: E. Flatt (MISS) - 187 YDS

Rushing: V. Pearson (MISS) - 17 CAR, 111 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: B. Flowers (MISS) - 10 REC, 75 YDS

Nichols' 35-yard field goal is the difference

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) -- Jonathan Nichols' 35-yard field goal in overtime lifted Mississippi past Vanderbilt 26-23 on Saturday.

The Rebels (1-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) went on defense first in overtime and stopped Vanderbilt, forcing four incompletions. Ole Miss then called three straight running plays to set up Nichols' winner.

Nichols, who won the Lou Groza Award last year as the nation's best kicker, was mobbed by his teammates, while the Commodores crumpled to the ground after Nichols' fourth field goal of the game sailed through.

Vashon Pearson ran for 111 yards and had a 54-yard touchdown run for Ole Miss, which dodged its worst start in 21 years and beat Vandy for the fifth straight time.

Sparked by new quarterback Ethan Flatt, the Rebels scored on three straight possessions in the second half to erase a 23-10 deficit. Ole Miss tied it on Nichols' 34-yard field goal with 2:23 remaining.

Nichols had a chance to win it in regulation, but his 50-yarder was short and wide right with :06 remaining.

Flatt, who made his first career start, was poised in the clutch. He was 8-of-10 in the fourth quarter and finished 21-of-32 for 187 yards as the worst passing offense in the SEC showed marked improvement.

Bill Flowers had 10 catches for 75 yards for the Rebels, who entered averaging just 149 yards passing.

Jay Cutler passed for 131 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score for the Commodores (0-2, 0-2), who looked well on their way toward their first SEC road win since beating Kentucky in 2000.

But after taking a 13-point lead, penalties and poor execution prevented Vandy from getting closer than the Rebels 27. Matthew Tant's 66-yard touchdown run was called back on an illegal procedure flag.

Flatt was sharp in replacing Micheal Spurlock, who was benched late in last week's loss to Alabama and played just one series in the second quarter against Vandy.

Norval McKenzie ran for 99 yards to lead the Commodores.

It was the second time Ole Miss and Vanderbilt have gone to overtime. The Commodores won the previous overtime game in 1999, Vanderbilt's only win in the series since 1993.