Ole Miss fell short in a fourth quarter comeback against the No. 23 California Golden Bears 28-20 on Saturday at the Vaught.
“It was a very tough loss. It was very disappointing for our kids because they fought their hearts out,” Head Coach Matt Luke said. “We made too many mistakes to win.”
Ole Miss (2-2) had two chances at the end of the game to punch the ball across the goal line and try to tie to go into overtime. Freshman quarterback John Rhys Plumlee orchestrated two drives down the field after Matt Corral went down with a rib injury late in the final 15 minutes of action.
“We’ve talked with him several times about him being prepared for his opportunity and his opportunity came. He made the best of it,” Luke said.
Once Plumlee entered the game, the Rebels scored on two plays after he ran the ball for 47 yards. Freshman running back Jerrion Ealy finished the drive by finding pay dirt.
“(Plumlee) made a play with his legs and set us forward several yards and he ignited the sideline and the stadium, so I was very pleased with him,” Luke said.
The Hattiesburg native finished the game going 7-7 for 82 yards through the air and 53 on the ground with three touches.
Plumlee found Elijah Moore on the first attempt for a touchdown to possibly tie the game on a two-yard pass into the end zone. Officials determined he did not cross the plain. On the following play, Plumlee tried to punch the ball across on the ground but came up short.
Corral passed for 266 yards and carried the ball for another 56 yards on the ground with a rushing touchdown.
The Rebels’ defense held Cal’s (4-0) offense to only 60 yards on the ground. The Landshark defense gave up 373 yards in the air to the Golden Bears’ quarterbacks. Cal’s starter Chase Garbers passed for 357 yards with four touchdowns and an interception.
Ole Miss returns to the gridiron next weekend in conference action at Alabama. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. on CBS.