Ole Miss Storms Back On Vandy To Go 7-4

Eli Manning threw four touchdown passes in the second half to rally Mississippi to a 38-27 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday in Commodores coach Woody Widenhofer's last game. Ole Miss (7-4, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) snapped a three-game losing streak. The Rebels kept alive their precarious postseason prospects by erasing a 17-point third-quarter deficit. Manning was 23-for-40 for 286 yards. He recovered from three second-quarter interceptions to guide the Rebels to five straight touchdown drives in the second half. Manning zipped a 39-yard TD pass to Jason Armstead with 3:34 left in the fourth quarter to give Ole Miss a 31-27 lead, the Rebels' first of the game. Joe Gunn ran for a career-high 157 yards on 32 carries. His 10-yard touchdown scamper with 1:49 left in the game gave Ole Miss 38-27 lead. Greg Zolman was 23-for-41 for 286 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions for the Commodores (2-9, 0-8), who finished
winless in the SEC for the second time in Widenhofer's five-year tenure. Widenhofer announced his resignation three weeks ago amid speculation he would be fired. The 58-year-old finished his
Vanderbilt career with a 15-40 record, 4-36 in the SEC. Zolman's 3-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter gave Vanderbilt a 20-3 lead and brought boos from the home fans.

Ole Miss did little to impress the two bowl representatives in attendance for most of the first three quarters. The SEC has tie-ins to six bowls and the champion is guaranteed a spot in the BCS. With nine bowl eligible teams, even if the SEC gets two teams into the BCS _ a definite possibility _ there may not be a spot for the Rebels. After Zolman's TD run, Manning led consecutive touchdown drives of 86 and 87 yards. Manning capped the first with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Charles Stackhouse. Manning hooked up with Bill Flowers, who split the defense on a crossing route, for a 26-yard TD to cut the lead to 20-17 with 11:41 left in the fourth. Zolman answered less than a minute later finding Jason Mathenia, who made a juggling 28-yard touchdown catch to increase the
Vanderbilt lead to 27-17. But the Commodores' defense could not stop Manning and Gunn, and
their offense dropped several passes that would have kept drives alive. Manning floated a 15-yard touchdown to Jamie Armstrong with 8:07 left to pull the Rebels to 27-24. The sophomore quarterback completed the comeback by finding Armstead running a post down the middle of the field behind the secondary. Dan Stricker caught 11 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown for Vandy. But his fourth-down drop in the open field late in the fourth quarter with the Commodores down four was a fitting end to the Widenhofer era.