Ole Miss Opens Freeze Era With 49-27 Win Over UCA

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Bo Wallace ran for 82 yards in addition to his 264 yards passing against Central Arkansas. (Photo by Joshua McCoy)
Bo Wallace ran for 82 yards in addition to his 264 yards passing against Central Arkansas. (Photo by Joshua McCoy)

Sept. 1, 2012

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OXFORD, Miss. - Sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace went 20-24 for 264 yards and two touchdowns, and the Ole Miss football team (1-0) opened the Hugh Freeze era by coming back from a six-point halftime deficit to defeat Central Arkansas 49-27 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.

Playing in front of 50,554 fans on a gorgeous Saturday evening, the Ole Miss Rebels fought off a resilient Central Arkansas team by outscoring the Bears 35-7 in the second half.

"We're thrilled to get a win," Freeze said. "Wins are important, no matter who they're against or when they occur. We've been in this long enough to know that, and the joy that's in that locker room right now is special. The kids are having a blast in there, and it's been a long while since they've been able to rejoice so I'm very excited for them."

The Ole Miss offense clipped along at an efficient rate for much of the game against the UCA defense, punting just three times all game.

Ole Miss' opening possession of the season nearly resulted in a punt, but Freeze made the gutsy call and went for it on fourth-and-inches from Ole Miss' own 31-yard line. After a QB sneak from Wallace for the first down, the Rebels' offense shifted into overdrive.

On the very next play, with no passing options open, Wallace showed his mobility by scampering for 13 yards. An end-around to senior Randall Mackey followed for another first down before Wallace again showed his wheels with a quarterback keeper up the middle for 25 yards and a touchdown three plays later.

Wallace, a junior college transfer from Pulaski, Tenn., entered Saturday night's contest entrenched in a position battle with junior quarterback Barry Brunetti. After Wallace passed for 268 yards and rushed for a team-high 82 yards, including a touchdown, Freeze said Wallace would be the Rebels' starting quarterback against UTEP on Sept. 8, but declined to say the competition between the two was over.

"Barry did some real nice things too, but certainly Bo had a great game, and I've always known that he's a gamer," Freeze said.

Central Arkansas entered the halftime break with a 20-14 lead, but Ole Miss responded in the second half by outscoring the Bears 35-7, including 35-unanswered, and erasing all doubt in the game's outcome.

The Rebels began their second half scoring in a rather unconventional manner. After marching down the field to the UCA six-yard line, Wallace rushed up the middle and attempted to dive into the end zone but the ball was popped free. Flying through the air, the ball eventually landed in the back half of the endzone where junior wide receiver Ja-Mes Logan was on the spot and recovered the ball for the touchdown. After a Bryson Rose extra point, the lead was Ole Miss' once again, 21-20, and the Rebels would never look back.

"(Defensive coordinator) Dave (Wommack) made a lot of adjustments defensively," Freeze said. "We didn't make a lot offensively. It was just execution."

Ole Miss followed up its first touchdown drive of the second half with another one on the ensuing possession that was capped off by a 53-yard touchdown throw from Wallace to Donte Moncrief down the middle. Moncrief finished the game with eight receptions for a game-high 104 yards and a touchdown. It was the first 100-yard receiving game of Moncrief's bright, young career.

Ole Miss' 565 total yards of offense were its most since netting 578 yards against Fresno State two years ago. The Rebels' 330 passing yards are their most since throwing for 332 yards against Arkansas in 2009.

Saturday's game marked Ole Miss and Central Arkansas' first-ever meeting in football. The Rebels' next game Sept. 8 against UTEP is schedule for a 6:00 p.m. CT kickoff at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

"We have got a long way to go, and we look forward to getting back to work next week for UTEP," Freeze said. "I'm very, very happy for our young men and our coaches and the Rebel Nation that we can start the season 1-0."

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