Vols comeback falls short as Rebels win 31-26

Now 4-3 overall and 2-2 in SEC play, Tennessee heads to Alabama next Saturday
Neyland Stadium
Neyland Stadium(Rick Russo)
Published: Oct. 16, 2021 at 6:51 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 17, 2021 at 12:35 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Heupel Postgame

Heupel speaks after the Vols fall to Ole Miss in a controversial end to a close game. More: https://bit.ly/3DSrmzz

Posted by WVLT on Saturday, October 16, 2021

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The place will be rocking! Should be a lot of fun inside will be a a sold out Neyland Stadium as the Vols host their first home night game in SEC play since Oct. 5, 2019, against Georgia.

UT has played three consecutive noon contests at home and Saturday’s showdown with the Rebels is the first of four consecutive games against top-15 ranked opponents for the Big Orange.

The Vols sit in third place in the SEC East standings, while Ole Miss is one of three teams at 1-1 in a tie for second in the SEC West standings entering the game.

And even before kcikoff the show, as in light show was on with a sold out checkered Neyland crowd looking on.


Vols won the toss but deferred to the second half. Matt Corral and the Ole Miss offense would pick up a quick first down ona nice run and then a 17 yard pass completion. Then facing 3rd and 8 at their own 49, Corral would connect on a short swing pass. Brought up a 4th and 6. Lane Kiffin decides to go for it and the Rebels pick it up on a Corral scramble.

Then facing a 3rd and 8 at the UT 38, Corral would swing out to the right side. The ball was caught, but the receiver fell for a loss one one. Once again, Kiffin decides to go on 4th down. And on 4th and 9 at the Vols 39, Corral would scramble for the first down, but a holding penalty would bring it back, forcing a Mississippi punt.

Trouble for Tennessee early! UT’s Velus Jones fumbles the punt and it’s recovered by the Rebels at the Vols 11 yard line. Ole Miss would lose some yardage and then on 3rd and 14 at the UT 15, Corral was forced out of the pocket and his pass to the endzone was incomplete. Howver a holding penalty n trevon Flowers would give Ole Miss new life. Quarterback Corral would run it down to the one yard line and then on the next play it’s Snoop Connor rushing it in for the game’s first score and a 7-0 Ole Miss lead with 9:50 to go in the 1st quarter.

The Vols would start their drive at the 25. Three plays would only mount 9 yards. Adding injury to insult, Lineman Cade Mays would leave the feel with the help of UT trainers after getting banged up on the 3rd down play. Appears to be a leg injury of some sort. Vols punt back to matt Corral and the Ole Miss Rebels.

On 3rd and 13, Corral does it again to the Tennessee defense. A designed QB draw up the middle picks up 23 yards and abig Mississippi first down. Ole Miss would be face with another 4th down. 4th and two at the UT 45, the Vols defense would tighten up and get to Corral. The ball would come losse and Tyler baron would take it back all the way for a Tennessee TD. After discussing the matter, the officials decidd Corral was in the grasp and that it was not a fumble. Regardless, it was a 4th down play and the ball goes over on downs to Tennessee.

The Vols start with great field position but an imcomplete deep pass to Javonta Payton, a short run by Jabari Small and then an overthrown deep shot to a wide open Velus Jones would net Tennessee another three and out and a paxton Brooks punt.

Rebels start their next drive at their own 7 yard line and finally some good fortune for the Big Orange!

The Vols would take over with great field position near mid field. A couple terrific Jabari Small runs would carry the Vols down to the Ole Miss 16. From there, it was Hooker with a perfect strike on a slant pattern to Cedric Tillman. His 3rd TD of the season and 5th career would give UT a 9-7 lead. Hooker now has 14 passing TD’s this season and 17 overall.

Not to be outdown, the Rebels drive right back down the field. On 3rd and 8 at the UT 13, Corral’s swing pass to the near side was off the receiver’s finger tips. Ole Miss is forced to attempt a FG. The 30 yarder is good and the Rebels jump back out front 10-9.

Vols called for illegal formation, 5 players in the back field on first down making it 1st and 15 at the 20. A false start on Dayne Davis in for Cade Mays would make it make it 1st and 20 at the 15. A three yard gain on a shovel pass to Jabari Small and then 3 yard Ole Miss sack of Hendon Hooker would leave UT with a 3rd and 20 as the first quarter came to an end.


And with just a three man rush, the rebels get to Hooker again. The sack leaves UT with a 4th and 27 at their own 2 yard line. Vols get a 46 yard punt from Paxton Brooks and it’s at their own 46 yard where Ole Miss will begin their first drive of the 2nd quarter.

On 4th and three the Rebels go for it again. Once again they convert thanks to the legs of QB matt Corral. Ole miss two of three on 4th down conversions so far. Corral is absolutely killing the Vols with his legs. another 9 yard gain setting up a 3rd and one which Corral would pick up.

Then Corral gets it done with his arm going up top for 33 yards to Dannis Jackson on a pretty TD pass. Jackson got by Alontae Taylor who had returned to the game after getting dinged up ona previous drive. The PAT makes the score 17-9 Ole Miss at the 11:27 mark of the 2nd quarter.

Since the Tillman TD reception, the Vols offense has struggled. Tennessee with just 36 yards rushing and 64 total yards thus far in the game.

Ole Miss starts next drive at its own 9 yard line. Rebels pick up a first down, but after a Matthew Butler sack and Corral scramble Ole Miss was faced with a 3rd and 11 at their own 19, once again Corral would run and come up just short. The spot of the football was reviewed by the replay crew and the call was overturned. First down and 10 Rebels at their 31 yard line.

That’s the spark the Rebels need. Corral hits Dontario Drummond with a 50 pass play. 3rd 10 at the UT 12, Corral swings it out to Connor, who picks up the first down. Two plays later it’s Connor again bulling through the middle for his second TD of the night. Ole Miss opens up a 24-9 lead, quieting the checkered clad crowd at Neyland Stadium.

Vols would mount a drive but it would stall in Ole Miss territory and on 4th and 15, Coach Josh Heupel decides to punt. The kick backs up Ole Miss to their own 8 yard line with 2:26 left in the half.

The Vols are able to hold, forcing a rare Ole Miss punt. Tennessee gets the ball back with just under a minute remaining in the half. On third and 8 the Vols pick up the yardage on a Hendon Hooker to jalin Hyatt pass. Another pass to Velus Jones gets UT to its 48 yard line with :11 remaining.Hooker would connect with Jones again on a 31 yard pass play down to the Ole Miss 21 yard line. With :02 remaining, the Vols attempt a FG and Chase McGrath, not before Lane Kiffin calls three time outs to try and ice the kicker, but McGrath is true from 39 yards out. Rebels lead the Volunteers 24-12 at the half. Tennessee will get the ball first in the 2nd half.


Well that didn’t take long. Vols drive down the field thanks to a 26yard Jabari Small run, a great catch by Cedric Tillman on a high pass and then a clutch Hendon Hooker to Velus Jones connection leading to a one yard Small touchdown run. We gotta game! Rebels by 5, 24-19 early in the 3rd quarter.

Rebels go back to work on offense and drive into UT territory, thanks in large part again to the legs and arm of quarterback Matt Corral. However, the drive stalls and Ole Miss is forced to try a 45 yard FG. The kick sails wide right and the score remains 24-19.

The Vols would drive back down the field and into Ole Miss territory, but on 3rd and 10, a deep pass down the near sideline to javonta payton sails over the receiver’s head. Chase McGrath comes in to attempt a 49 yard field goal, but the kick sails wide right. Score remains 24-19 Rebels. Matt Corral leads Mississippi with 124 yards rushing, Jabari Small has run for 84 for Tennessee.

Matt Corral is an absolute beast with the football. The young man continuing to get it done with his legs, bailing out his offense time and again. Corral now has 169 yards rushing in the game, but it’s his arm which helps the Rebels extend their lead. Corral connects with Dontario Drummond from16 yards out. The point after touchdown makes the score 31-19 late in the 3rd quarter.


Tennessee would drive down the field and score on third and goal from the 5 on the strength of a Hendon Hooker TD run. The UT defense would then come up big. Trevon Flowers hands Matt Corral his first interception of the season and the Vols are back in business down 31-26.

Tennessee would move the ball to the Ole Miss 49 but the drive would stall with the Vols facing a 4th and 17. Coach heupel decides to punt. The Rebels are backed up to their 12 yard line.

For the second straight Ole Miss possession the Vol defense comes up big. On 3rd and 9 near mid field, Byron Young tips a Matt Corral pass forcing a 4th down punt.

Vols take over deep in their territory and immediately get a big run from quarterback Hendon Hooker. Then on a 2nd and 7 under pressure while back to pass, Hooker eludes the rush and picks up another first down. On the next play he drops back to pass and connects with javonta Payton at the 50 yard line. 1st down Tennessee with 2:58 left in the football game.

Trouble from there for the Vols. First, Hendon Hooker is sacked and then a holding penalty moves Tennessee back to the 33 yard line where it’s 2nd and 27. Hendon Hooker would scramble on 2nd and 3rd down leaving Tennessee with a 4th and 24 at the 37. On 4th down, Hooker connects with TE Jacob Warren to the line to reach, but the officials mark the ball just shot of the Ole Miss 40 yard line. After a review of the spot, the ruling on the field stands. Ole Miss hangs on to win 31-26.

The Vols drop to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in SEC play heading to Tuscalossa next week to face Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Copyright 2021 WVLT. All rights reserved.