OXFORD, Miss. (AP) -- Mississippi boasts an impressive group of
receivers, but it was defensive end Jayme Mitchell that caught
Saturday's most important pass.
Mitchell intercepted an Arkansas State screen pass and rumbled
31 yards to set up the go-ahead touchdown midway through the third
period as Ole Miss rallied for a 28-21 victory over the Indians.
"We knew we needed to help the offense to win this game,"
Mitchell said. "Once I got it (interception), all I was thinking
about was scoring, but their quarterback got me."
The interception return put Ole Miss at the Arkansas State
18-yard line and two plays later, Ethan Flatt hit Lorenzo Townsend
on a 9-yard touchdown pass to put the Rebels ahead to stay, 20-14,
with 7:04 left in the third period.
"It was a huge play by Jayme," said Ole Miss coach David
Cutcliffe, whose club trailed 14-13. "Jayme turned the game
around. He was right there and then the offense did what it had to
do to get control."
Ole Miss (2-3) built on the momentum as linebacker Patrick
Willis came up with a bad snap fumble at the Indians' 20-yard line.
Four plays later, Brandon Jacobs scored on a 4-yard touchdown run.
Flatt hit Matt Pierce on a conversion pass and the Rebels had a
28-14 lead with 14:03 left.
"Patrick was in the right position and that was another big
play for us," Cutcliffe said. "Our defense gave up a big play at
the end, but they made enough big plays to put us in position to
Arkansas State got as close as 28-21 on a 59-yard pass from Nick
Noce to Jerome Stegall with 3:12 left. However, the Indians had
only one other series and turned the ball over on downs in their
own territory in the final seconds.
The Indians got strong performances from Noce, who finished
17-of-39 for 230 yards and running back Antonio Warren, who rushed
for 129 yards on 19 carries. But, the two turnovers that set up
short touchdown drives by the Rebels in the third period were too
much to overcome.
"I don't think we lost because of ability or heart," Arkansas
State coach Steve Roberts said. "We lost because of lack of focus
plus the ability of Ole Miss to capitalize on the mistakes we made.
We are very satisfied with the effort of our team."
Ole Miss, after turning the ball over five times in last week's
loss at Wyoming, was much more efficient. The Rebels had only one
turnover and avoided any damage from that mistake when Charles
Clark blocked an Arkansas State field goal attempt.
"I thought we played well. We executed well offensively,"
Flatt said. "We were much more patient with the football and did
things according to plan. I think this win will play a big part in
how we approach the rest of the season."
Arkansas State led 14-13 at halftime after the lead changed
hands three times. Ole Miss built a 6-0 lead in the first period on
field goals of 23 and 31 yards by Jonathan Nichols.
The Indians took a 7-6 lead on a 55-yard touchdown run by
Warren. Warren rushed for 121 yards in the first half, but was
limited to eight yards on eight carries in the second half.
Ole Miss answered on the ensuring series, capped by an 11-yard
touchdown pass from Flatt to Townsend, Flatt was 11-for-14 for 122
yards in the first half, including 3-for-3 for 46 yards on the
Arkansas State reclaimed the 14-13 lead with an 8-play, 80-yard
drive as Noce scored on a 22-yard run.