NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The debate over whether or not A.J. Brown caught the ball in the end zone may never end.
The Vanderbilt Commodores have no doubt Randall Haynie at least broke up the pass, and he believes he pulled it away for an interception. They know for sure that Joejuan Williams knocked down the next pass to seal a very big victory.
Kyle Shurmur hit Kalija Lipscomb with a 5-yard touchdown pass on the first possession in overtime, and Vanderbilt edged Mississippi 36-29 Saturday night to keep their bowl hopes alive for another week.
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Lipscomb for tossing the ball in the air after his TD catch gave Ole Miss the ball at the 12. Three plays later, review overturned Jordan Ta’amu’s 8-yard TD pass to A.J. Brown, ruling that Brown did not maintain possession.
“I didn’t think it was a catch,” Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said. “With the rule in play now, we’re talking about you got to possess the ball through the catch. He didn’t possess it through the catch. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure we didn’t have an interception.”
Ole Miss coach Matt Luke said the play was reviewed at the SEC office in Birmingham.
“It looked like he had possession, and he was down, and the guy knocked it out, that’s what it looked like on the jumbotron,” Luke said. “That’s what I saw.”
On fourth down, Williams broke up the throw to DaMarkus Lodge at the left pylon after a defensive change by Mason.
“It was just up to me to make the play,” Williams said.
Vanderbilt (5-6, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) trailed 13-0 early in the second quarter and rallied with 19 straight points to beat Ole Miss for the second time in three years. The game featured three ties in the second half, and Luke Logan’s fifth field goal from 32 yards with 40 seconds left for Ole Miss set up overtime.
Now the Commodores can earn their second bowl berth in three seasons by beating instate rival Tennessee in the regular-season finale.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn ran for 127 yards and a TD. Williams and LaDarius Wiley each had an interception in the fourth quarter, and Dayo Odeyingbo had two of Vanderbilt’s three sacks.
Ole Miss (5-6, 1-6) lost its fourth straight despite outgaining Vandy 578-387 in total offense. Ta’amu had a career-high 457 yards passing and two TDs, and Brown finished with a season-high 212 yards and a TD. Lodge had 117 yards receiving.
Ole Miss appeared in total control after Brown took a pass 84 yards for a TD and a 13-0 lead. At that point, Ole Miss had outgained Vandy 271-73.
Max Worship blocked a Mac Brown punt through the end zone for a safety that Mason said changed the momentum, and the Commodores drove 53 yards off the following kick.
Shurmur hit Lipscomb with a 2-yard TD pass with 62 seconds left in the first half to pull Vandy within 13-12. Vaughn capped the opening drive of the third quarter with a 1-yard TD run for Vandy’s first lead of the game at 19-13.
Mississippi: The Rebels put up some more flashy numbers with the nation’s fifth-best offense, though running back Scottie Phillips didn’t play because of an injured ankle. They came in leading the SEC and ninth nationally with only nine turnovers lost all season, but the Commodores came up with two interceptions in the fourth quarter. Ole Miss also had two other TD passes overturned after reviews.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores showed resilience in fighting back after blowing a lead losing at Missouri last week. They have struggled all season to finish off games when either leading or with the ball needing to score in four different games until this.
“Our emphasis this past week was to finish,” Shurmur said. “It’s something we haven’t done well throughout the year, but it was good to finish here. That was great.”
Shurmur’s first two TD passes tied him with Jay Cutler for Vandy’s career record, then the senior took the record to himself with the TD pass in overtime. “I’ll worry about that later. Right now, it’s just a great team win,” Shurmur said.
Mississippi: Host Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl on Thursday night.
Vanderbilt: Host Tennessee on Saturday.