OXFORD – (AP) It was hard to tell whether Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was more excited or relieved. But he took a moment to confirm the results on the scoreboard before heading to the locker room.
Ole Miss snapped a 16-game Southeastern Conference losing streak Saturday with a 41-20 win over Auburn. The win pushed the surprising Rebels (4-3, 1-2) within two games of bowl eligibility and stopped the SEC streak that began in October, 2010 after a 42-35 home win over Kentucky.
“It’s hard to explain. I’m so excited about seeing our fans and our players have some happiness after the last two and a half years,” Freeze said. “They’ve been through some tough times around here and I just could not be happier for them.”
Bo Wallace was the decisive factor as the junior college transfer quarterback scored four touchdowns rushing, passing and receiving. He accounted for 290 of the 451 total offense yards, including 17 of 22 for 226 passing yards, but most importantly to Freeze, no turnovers.
“No turnovers. Bo protected the ball and no turnovers,” Freeze said. “We felt like we could move it and be effective. Bo made the plays and was efficient. Our defense was great in the second half.”
Wallace caught a 25-yard scoring pass on a throwback from running back Randall Mackey, scored on runs of 1 and 2 yards, respectively, and delivered the game clincher, a 55-yard scoring pass to Jeff Scott with 5:02 left.
The performance was especially satisfying for Wallace, who had a pair of crucial turnovers in the previous week’s loss to Texas A&M. The Rebels had a 10-point lead with seven minutes remaining before the Aggies rallied for a 30-27 win.
“It was disappointing last week and I take the blame, but the coaches kept emphasizing all week we played Auburn and forget it,” Wallace said. “I tell you, it’s a special feeling in that locker room today and a couple of more like this will get us bowl eligible.”
Auburn (1-5, 0-4) has lost six consecutive SEC games and been outscored 62-3 in the final quarter. Three of Auburn’s four SEC losses – Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss – have been by a combined 56 points.
“We’re not changing anything,” said Auburn coach Gene Chizik when asked about his postgame message to his players. “We’re going to go back and work harder to get better.”
The Tigers, tied at halftime 17-17, were within striking distance, pulling within 24-20 on the second of Cody Parkey’s two field goals, a 36-yard kick with 4:38 left in the third quarter. Ole Miss answered with 17 fourth quarter points while Auburn had only one first down in its final five possessions.
The fourth quarter outburst was highlighted by the 55-yard strike to Scott, who was apparently tackled by linebacker Ashton Richardson at the Auburn 42-yard line after a short gain. Instead, Scott rolled through the attempted tackle without touching the ground and raced the remaining distance for the touchdown that built an insurmountable 34-20 lead.
“We teach our players to play until you can hear the whistle blow,” Freeze said. “That’s what Jeff did. He kept playing and I think that helped put it away.”
Scott finished with 137 rushing yards on 21 attempts and added 70 receiving yards on three catches. Auburn’s Tre Mason had 18 carries for 82 rushing yards, including first half touchdown runs of 1 and 6 yards.
Auburn quarterback Clint Moseley was 11 of 18 for 112 yards, but struggled in the second half, connecting on 3 of 10 for 22 yards. The Tigers finished with 213 total yards, but only 60 in the second half.
Mike Marry led the Rebel defenders with six tackles, a sack and an interception in the final four minutes that set up Wallace’s final touchdown run with 3:26 left. Auburn linebacker Darren Bates led all tacklers with 16, including two for a loss.