Rebels Shoot Down 'Bama 27-24 - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Rebels Shoot Down 'Bama 27-24

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) _ Eli Manning was already adored at Mississippi. Now, he might be worshipped. Manning threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Joe Gunn with 46 seconds left to lead Ole Miss to its first victory over Alabama in 13 years, 27-24 on a rainy Saturday. The Rebels (4-1, 2-1, Southeastern Conference) scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to erase a 10-point deficit and snap a 10-game losing streak against the Crimson Tide (3-3, 2-2). Lanier Goethie picked off Tyler Watts' pass from his own end zone with 20 seconds left to end Alabama's last hope and set off a long-awaited celebration. Manning, a sophomore in his first years as a starter, ran off the field with the game ball from a victory that will stand with some of biggest in school history, including those directed by his famous father, Archie. ``I need that football for my memories,'' Manning said. Many of the crowd of 47,110 were still in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium long after the final whistle. Some of the players led the soaked crowd in a rendition of ``Hotty Toddy,'' the Rebels' unofficial fight song, as senior wide receiver Omar Rayford waved a big blue Ole Miss flag in the middle of the field. ``It's more of a relief than anything else. I don't know how happy I am, but I am relieved,'' said Gunn, who also ran for 78 yards and a touchdown. Manning said, ``We're starting a new tradition here.''

The win improves the Manning families' record against Alabama to 6-2. Archie Manning was 2-1 against the Crimson Tide from 1968-70 and Peyton Manning won three of four against Alabama while at Tennessee. ``Oh, that's just another stat, but I'll try to add on to it,'' Manning said. A beleaguered Ole Miss defense, which was pounded by Alabama's option for the first three quarters, gave Manning a last shot to be a hero by stuffing the Tide on a third-and-1 deep in Ole Miss territory to force a punt late in the fourth quarter. ``Coach (David) Cutcliffe told me before the winning touchdown drive, that this is the position a quarterback wants to be in at the end of the game,'' Manning said. ``You're the one that decides if your team wins or loses.'' Manning and the offense took over at their own 41 with just under two minutes left and no timeouts and were immediately set back to the 31 after a holding penalty on the first play. On first-and-20, Manning hooked up with Jamie Armstrong for a 24-yard gain. Two plays later, Manning showed some mobility, scrambling out of the pocket and drawing the defense up before floating a pass to Toward Sanford. The fullback streak down the sideline 42 yards to the Alabama 4. A running play gained a yard and then the Rebels went back to the air. Manning hit Gunn sneaking out of the backfield at the 5 and Gunn ran through Hirchel Bolden at about the 2 and into the end zone Gunn took particular pleasure in running over Bolden, who Gunn said punched him in the face earlier in the game. ``I guess I threw the last punch,'' Gunn said.

Manning finished 22-of-41 for a career-high 325 yards with no interceptions. He has thrown 11 TDs and just one interception this season. Watts' running and timely passing had given Alabama a seemingly comfortable lead. The junior ran for 110 yards on 13 carries and threw for 136 and two touchdowns. His 7-yard touchdown to Triandos Luke with 7:55 left in the third gave the Crimson Tide a 24-14 lead. But after gaining 346 yards in the first three quarters, Alabama managed just 17 in the fourth and the Rebels' offense took advantage. ``We're all heartbroken right now,'' Watts said. ``It's another one that got away from us. We got to the fourth quarter and just didn't do the job.'' Two weeks ago, Alabama blew a 12-point fourth-quarter lead in a 37-36 loss to South Carolina. ``This loss hurts a lot more than South Carolina did,'' Watts said. Charles Stackhouse scored on a 19-yard run with 9:24 left in the game to cut the lead to 24-20. Jonathan Nichols missed the extra point and forced Ole Miss to play for a touchdown the rest of the way. Manning nearly had that touchdown with about four minutes left, but his fourth-down pass under pressure from the Alabama 9 to a wide-open receiver in the end zone sailed high. But Manning would make the most of his second chance, proving that he's more than just Archie's son and Peyton's brother.

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