Saturday, September 22, 2012
Rebels honor Walker, roll over Wave
By David Helman
Saturday's early kickoff between Ole Miss and Tulane started with the classiest of gestures, as the Rebels sported a black helmet sticker in honor of injured Tulane safety Devon Walker.
What transpired next wasn't so nice, however. The Rebels cruised to a 39-0 shutout of the Green Wave behind a 26-point first quarter of play. Ole Miss reached the end zone on scoring drives of three, four and three plays in the opening 15 minutes, with help coming from a fumbled snap on a Tulane punt and an interception thrown by Green Wave quarterback Devin Powell.
The Rebels boast the No. 2 rushing offense in the SEC behind LSU, and they followed up on that success Saturday in the Superdome. Ole Miss rushed for 302 total yards and three touchdowns, paced by diminutive tailback Jeff Scott, who rushed for 67 on 14 carries with two touchdowns.
The Green Wave defense performed admirably in its first game back after Walker's terrifying spinal injury. Tulane held the Rebels scoreless in the second quarter and forced five fumbles, recovering three. But the Green Wave offense couldn't muster much against the Ole Miss pass rush. Tulane had managed just 52 total yards by halftime and finished with 191 for the afternoon -- many of those coming against backups.
The loss didn't mar a touching tribute to Walker during the game's pregame ceremonies, however. The Green Wave coaching staff wore Devon Walker t-shirts in honor of their injured senior, who fractured his spine in the loss to Tulsa two weeks ago. Tulane cornerback Alex Lauricella presented his fallen teammate's jersey to the crowd before kickoff, and the empty jersey was displayed prominently on the sideline during the game. The team also replaced the Tulane logo on the left side of its helmet with a decal reading "18," which is Walker's number.
The win boosts the Rebels' record to 3-1 -- already an improvement from last fall's dismal 2-10 campaign. It's the program's best record after four games since 2009, when the Rebels won the Cotton Bowl. But we'll see how that stacks up next week when the Ole Miss travels to face No. 1 Alabama in the SEC opener.