12:30 PM ET, September 18, 2004
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, OXFORD, MS
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.
|3rd Down Conversions||5-13||6-17|
|4th Down Conversions||0-2||0-0|
|FG||11:58||PATRICK JOHNSON 37 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 61 yards.
|FG||7:26||JONATHAN NICHOLS 40 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 15 yards.
|TD||5:32||VASHON PEARSON 54 YD RUN (JONATHAN NICHOLS KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 59 yards.
|TD||0:00||JAY CUTLER 6 YD RUN (PATRICK JOHNSON KICK)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||9:26||ERIK DAVIS 15 YD PASS FROM JAY CUTLER (FAILED 2PT RUSH)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 51 yards.
|TD||7:20||MATTHEW TANT 3 YD RUN (PATRICK JOHNSON KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 27 yards.
|FG||3:31||JONATHAN NICHOLS 26 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 58 yards.
|TD||8:44||LORENZO TOWNSEND 3 YD RUN (JONATHAN NICHOLS KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 39 yards.
|FG||2:23||JONATHAN NICHOLS 34 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 56 yards.
|FG||0:00||JONATHAN NICHOLS 35 YD FG|
Drive info: 4 plays, 8 yards.