Moncrief monstrous in Rebs' Egg Bowl win
OXFORD — Hugh Freeze was the winning coach, the man of the hour, but Dan Mullen was the coach on the Ole Miss jumbotron as the final seconds ticked down.
What goes round, comes round. And, boy, this came around and came around and came around again.
“We will never lose to this team again,” Mullen was telling his players in a clip from two years ago, and the Ole Miss jumbotron folks replayed it multiple times.
Final score this night: Ole Miss 41, Mississippi State 24, and it was every bit that one-sided if not more.
State did not just lose to Ole Miss. State got whipped.
And before this goes any further, a word or several about Donte Moncrief, who was the best athlete on the field this night.
Moncrief, a sophomore wide receiver, caught seven passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns, which had Freeze shaking is head when asked if he had ever been around a wide receiver so talented.
“I had Michael Wallace and Shay Hodge when I was here before,” Freeze said. “Those are two great ones. Michael Wallace is as good vertically down the field, but Moncrief is more physical than Michael. I’ll put him in there with anybody, I’ll tell you that.”
Didn’t matter what defender State put on Moncrief, he beat him.
“I think Donte was pretty sick and tired of hearing about how good their defensive backs are,” Freeze said.”Any time he gets single coverage, he thinks he’s going to win.”
In a game of so many big plays, one of the biggest belonged to Ole Miss defensive back Charles Sawyer, who made a touchdown-saving tackle of Chad Bumphis late in the second quarter. Had Bumphis scored — and it appeared he would easily — State would have led 21-17 at halftime.
Instead, Sawyer ran him down from across the field and far behind and the Rebel defensive held and forced a field goal for a 17-17 halftime standoff. The Rebels scored the first 24 points of the second half.
“Huge,” Freeze said of Sawyer’s tackle. “At the time that was a really, really big play.”
So now it looks like State, 8-4, is headed for the Gator Bowl, while Ole Miss 6-6, could well be headed for Birmingham.
And for Ole Miss fans who aren’t thrilled about the Birmingham bowl, think what you would have given for any bowl back in August or early September.
Or listen to what Hugh Freeze said when asked if he would have taken a 6-6 record, a run-away victory over the arch-rival and any bowl game back in August.
“Absolutely, I’d have taken it,” Freeze said, smiling. “I’d have probably chuckled first and then taken it.”
Of course he would have.
Hard to believe this Ole Miss team is 6-6. Harder still to believe the Rebels could just as easily have won three more games. Texas A & M, Vanderbilt and LSU all will be remembered as big fish that got away.
Which makes the fact that Freeze and his staff kept the Rebels’ chins up through all the heartbreak all the more impressive.
Ole Miss gave maximum effort 12 times this season — no small feat — so now they’ll get to play a 13th game.
State will play in a better bowl, but neither of these teams will forget this Egg Bowl any time soon.
To view Egg Bowl photo gallery CLICK HERE.