John Rhys Plumlee entered the game for Matt Corral with 6:22 left in the game and the Rebels facing 3rd & 8 at their own 38 yard line, trailing the Cal Golden Bears 28-13. The next two plays were a 47 yard Plumlee run, followed by a 15 yard Jerrion Ealy touchdown run to make the score 28-20. The Ole Miss defense forced a three and out to set Plumlee and the offense up with one last chance to tie the game.
The Rebels would proceed to move the ball 89 yards in 10 plays before Plumlee was stuffed on a rushed QB sneak attempt as time ran out. While the official stats say they came up one yard short, it looked like Elijah Moore had caught Plumlee’s third down pass across the goal line but Moore landed outside of the end zone and the Pac-12 officiating crew ruled him down at the one. With no timeouts, Ole Miss had no choice to rush a 4th down play, where Plumlee was stuffed by Cal’s stud linebacker Evan Weaver, who made his 22nd tackle of the day on that play, as the referees declined to stop play to review the spot of the catch.
The end-of-game drama overshadowed what was a very good performance from Cal quarterback Chase Garbers. Garbers threw for 357 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Ole Miss defense. Garbers helped Cal wrest control of the game coming out of the half by throwing touchdown passes on each of his team’s first two drives of the half to turn a 14-13 lead into the 28-13 score that would last until the games final sequences. The Rebels defense was able to limit Cal to only 60 total yards on the ground and do just enough to keep their offense within range throughout the game.
It was slow-going for the most part for that offense. Corral finished 22/41 for 266 yards, while also finishing as the team’s leading rusher with 56 yards and a touchdown. Plumlee was 7/7 for 82 yards in his limited time on the field after Corral left with a rib injury. Scottie Phillips was mostly ineffective, running the ball 14 times for 54 yards. Moore was the main target for Corral and Plumlee, finishing with 11 catches for 102 yards, although he will feel that it should have been 103. The Rebels actually out-gained Cal by just under 100 yards, but when Cal got going, it often ended in points, where as the Rebels were often able get moving often could not turn forward momentum into points, missing two field goals and punting twice from Cal territory, in addition to the ill-fated final drive.
While Cal fields one of the stingiest defenses in the country, things don’t get any easier for Ole Miss, who fell to 2-2 with the loss, as up next they travel to Bryant-Denny stadium to take on the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide at 3:30 ET on CBS.