Cotton Bowl: No. 25 Ole Miss Run Past No. 7 Texas Tech

Andrew GloverCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2009

Dexter McCluster had 182 total yards of offense as the No. 25 Ole Miss Rebels beat the No. 7 Texas Tech Red Raiders 47-34 in the 73rd Annual Cotton Bowl.

Tech got to an early lead when Cordera Eason fumbled and Tech recovered at their own 39. The Red Raiders used only two plays to gain a first down with a seven-yard pass to Lyle Leong before Graham Harrell found Edward Britton wide open for a 35-yard touchdown.

On the Rebels’ ensuing possession, Darcel McBath intercepted Jevan Snead and returned it 45 yards, giving Tech a 14-0 lead.

The Rebels got back in the game. Snead led the Rebels on an eight-play, 78-yard drive. Mike Wallace made a 15-yard reception on 3rd-and-9 and Markeith Summers caught a 29-yard pass that gave the Rebels the ball at the Tech 11. Snead finished the drive with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Gerald Harris, cutting Tech’s lead to 14-7.

Ole Miss got the ball back at their own 15 after the Red Raiders drive stalled at their own 49. Snead finished a 10-play, 85-yard drive with a 41-yard touchdown pass to Wallace, evening the game at 14.

Tech would get the lead for the last time with a historic touchdown. Harrell hit Crabtree for a two-yard touchdown pass that broke the NCAA record for most career touchdown passes.

But the rest of the half went to the Rebels. Snead led Ole Miss on a nine-play, 80-yard drive which ended with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Harris.

Cassius Vaughn intercepted Harrell and the Rebels got a field goal to go into halftime with a 24-21 lead.

As Tech got off to a fast start in the first half, the Rebels was off to a similar start in the second half.

Marshay Green intercepted Graham Harrell and took it 65 yards for a touchdown, giving Ole Miss a 31-21 lead.

The Rebels defense forced Tech into a three-and-out, and Green took the ball 54 yards for a potential touchdown. However, after a review he was ruled out at the nine.

The Red Raiders defense stepped up and didn’t give up a yard the next three plays. Joshua Shene missed a 31-yard field goal giving Tech the ball back. The Red Raiders weren’t able to do anything and turned it over on downs.

Ole Miss took no time to take advantage. They only used three plays and finished the drive with a 17-yard touchdown run by Brandon Bolden to take a 38-21 lead.

After an exchange of punts, Tech would get back in the game early in the fourth quarter. Harrell led Tech on an 83-yard drive that ended with a 12-yard pass to Edward Britton.

The Rebels quickly stopped the Red Raiders' momentum. McCluster gained 14 yards on a pass before Bolden gained 44 yards down the right side of the field to the Tech 22. Enrique Davis then took the ball 11 yards to the Tech 11.

But the Red Raiders looked like they got momentum back as Davisfumbled and Daniel Charbonnet recovered at the two. Harrell was sacked in the end zone leading to a safety for Ole Miss and a 40-28 lead.

The Rebels returned the ball to the Tech 48. The Rebels picked up 11 yards on two plays for a first down. On 3rd-and-16 from the Tech 31, Snead completed a 29-yard pass to Shay Hodge for a 1st-and-Goal at the two. McCluster finished the drive with a five-yard run giving Ole Miss a decisive 47-28 advantage.

The Rebels (9-4) finished the season with a six-game win streak and won their second Cotton Bowl since 2004. Ole Miss gained 223 yards rushing and 515 yards of total offense.

McCluster rushed for 97 yards on 14 carries and scored one touchdown. Along with his rushing totals, McCluster also caught six passes for 83 yards.

Bolden also contributed to the Rebels’ rushing attack with 101 yards on 11 carries and one touchdown.

Snead completed 18-of-29 passes for 292 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

Wallace caught four passes for 80 yards and one touchdown.

The Red Raiders (11-2) finish the season tying the school’s record for most wins but losing the Cotton Bowl for the fourth consecutive year. Tech also allowed more than 40 points for the second time in the last three games. Tech had 469 yards of total offense.

Despite losing the game, it was a historic day for Harrell. He completed 36-of-58 passes for 364 yards, a Cotton Bowl record. Harrell’s four touchdown passes gives him an NCAA record of 134 for his career. In addition, Harrell becomes the first player with two 5,000 yard passing seasons.

Shannon Woods led the Red Raiders in rushing with 46 yards on six carries. Harrell had 43 yards on six carries with 44 of them coming on a run at the end of the first half. Batch only had 16 yards on two carries.

Eric Morris led the Red Raiders in receptions in his final game with 10 for 89 yards and one touchdown. Morris finished his career with 1,965 yards on 184 receptions and 27 touchdowns. Britton had five receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns and Woods contributed five receptions for 67 yards.

Michael Crabtree’s production was limited as his ankle was still bothering him. He had four receptions for 30 yards, but did score a touchdown for the first time since the Oklahoma State game on Nov. 8.

This game was the last played at the Cotton Bowl Stadium; the fixture moves to the Dallas Cowboys new stadium in Arlington next year.