FRIDAY FLASHBACK: Ole Miss - Georgia 1995

Derek Jones

Nov. 2, 2012

FRIDAY FLASHBACK rewinds to some of the memorable Ole Miss games from this week's all-time series. This week features the Rebels' 18-10 upset of Georgia in 1995.

Rebels ambush Georgia: Kicks, defense lead the way

By Bobby Hall
The Commercial Appeal

September 23, 1995

OXFORD, Miss. - The thunder of a booming cannon on the sideline wasn’t much louder than the jubilant postgame salute by fans Saturday night as Ole Miss celebrated an 18-10 Southeastern Conference victory over 20th ranked Georgia.

“This is the biggest thing that’s happened in the new era of Ole Miss football,” said Rebel cornerback Derek Jones.

Relying on four field goals by Georgia resident Tim Montz, and a defense that denied the Bulldogs twice in the final four minutes, the Rebels claimed their first SEC victory under new coach Tommy Tuberville.

“Sometimes in a new situation there is a doubt whether or not you can win a big game against a ranked opponent,” Tuberville said.  “This win proved our program is on the right track.”

A crowd of 39,473 witnessed a battle that came down to desire and defense.  Ole Miss (2-1, 1-1) lost its top rusher early when senior Dou Innocent dislocated a finger and did not return.  Georgia (2-2, 1-2) lost sophomore quarterback Mike Bobo in the second quarter with ligament damage in a knee.

But the Rebels found enough offense from quarterback Josh Nelson, who passed for 227 yards, and receivers LeMay Thomas, who caught eight for 109 yards, and Ta’Boris Fisher, who had seven for 78 and an 18 yard TD pass in the third period.

And there was plenty of defense when it counted.

With 2:13 remaining, Ole Miss linebacker Nate Wayne made a diving interception at the Rebel 22 to seemingly seal the victory.  But when the Rebels had to punt, Georgia had one last chance that ended at the 7 - one yard short of the first down - when linebacker Michael Lowery and end David McGowan stopped receiver Chris McCranie with four seconds left after a five-yard gain.

“I pressured the quarterback and Lowery hit the receiver,” McGowan said. “When I saw him (Lowery) struggling with the tackle, I made sure he didn’t let him fall forward.”

The victory was the first by the Rebels against a ranked team since the 1992 season when they beat Mississippi State, 17-10, in Oxford.

Junior Brian Smith took over for Bobo and finished with 219 yards passing and one TD, completing 18-of-32.  His shovel pass to tailback Hines Ward late in the second quarter resulted in a 50-yard gain, and Smith passed four yards to flanker Brice Hunter for the touchdown and a 7-6 halftime lead.

Montz, who is from Marietta, Ga., and was not recruited by the Bulldogs, made field goals of 44, 42, 33 and 20 yards.  He provided all the Rebel scoring in the first half, and personally outscored Georgia for the night.

“I never wanted to go to Georgia,” Montz said.  “I always wanted to come to Ole Miss, and this win was an absolute thrill.”

The Rebel touchdown came in the third period after a six-play, 74-yard drive in which Nelson was 5-for-5 passing.  The TD came on an 18-yard toss to Fisher for a 12-7 lead with 9:05 remaining.

After taking over on a punt inside the one, Ole Miss marched 83 yards in 16 plays for a 15-7 lead on a 33-yard kick by Montz with 14:48 left in the game.  Georgia’s Kanon Parkman kicked a 24-yard field goal with 8:57 for a 15-10 score.

A 39-yard kickoff return by Mark Smith got the Rebels started on a 58-yard drive that ended with a 20-yard field goal by Montz with 3:47 to go.  Then it was up to the defense.

“The defense played hard all night, not just the last two series,” Nelson said.  “If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have won the game.”

Things were weird and wacky early.  Fisher returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown, but it was called back because of an illegal block.  The first Rebel field goal came after a 15-play drive that produced 21 yards because of several penalties, including a couple for delay of game.  The 25-second clock malfunctioned early, disrupting Ole Miss’ offensive timing.

Before finally getting his first field goal, Montz was involved in a fake field goal that produced a first down, and a 37-yarder that he made, but was roughed on the kick, resulting in a first down.

“Offensively, we went to the short passing game on first down to try and keep Georgia off-balance,” Tuberville said.  “The thing we had to do was stop the run and their short passing game.  Tonight showed everything is starting to come together.”

Ole Miss will travel to play Florida on Saturday to play its third nationally ranked opponent in the first four games.  Georgia will host Alabama this week.

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