CFB: Nutt, Rebels hold on in coach's return to Arkansas
By NOAH TRISTER
By NOAH TRISTER
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Jevan Snead threw two touchdown passes, and Mississippi held off an Arkansas rally to give coach Houston Nutt a 23-21 win over his former team tonight.
The Rebels (4-4, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) led 23-14 with 1:45 remaining, but Arkansas quickly cut the deficit to two on Casey Dick's 22-yard touchdown pass to Greg Childs. The Razorbacks (3-5, 1-4) then tried an onside kick, and Arkansas' Aaron Fenton appeared to recover it.
Officials initially ruled the play out of bounds, but the call was reversed on review, giving the Razorbacks the ball with 1:03 to play. London Crawford caught a pass near the Ole Miss 20, but it was called back for offensive pass interference, and Arkansas didn't threaten again.
Nutt coached the Hogs for 10 seasons before leaving after last regular season to take over for SEC West Ole Miss. He and the Rebels were booed as they took the field, but they took control with a pair of scores near the end of the first half. The win was a major boost to the Rebels' bowl hopes and their first over Arkansas since 2003.
Arkansas trailed 20-14 after Dick's 8-yard touchdown pass to Lucas Miller with 4:28 remaining, but Snead found Mike Wallace for a 42-yard pass on the next Ole Miss possession, and Joshua Shene kicked a 28-yard field goal with 1:45 to play.
After that kick appeared to put the game out of reach, the Ole Miss fans in one corner of the stadium began chanting "Houston Nutt! Houston Nutt!"
The Arkansas fans booed, and a few of them began chanting "Bobby" in reference to Nutt's replacement, Bobby Petrino.
Petrino's Razorbacks then rallied to make it interesting.
Nutt's final months at Arkansas were tumultuous. Shortly after the 2006 season, offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and quarterback Mitch Mustain abruptly left the team. Nutt's 2007 included plenty of fan unrest — planes were spotted towing anti-Nutt banners at games.
The Rebels took the field Saturday at exactly the same moment Arkansas did — which might have spared Nutt a truly hostile greeting. Still, there were plenty of audible boos for the former coach and his team.
Petrino made a key call in the second quarter. The Razorbacks had already missed one field goal, so he decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Ole Miss 13. Michael Smith took a pitch to the left and went untouched to the end zone for a 7-3 lead.
The Rebels answered, scoring twice in the final two minutes of the half. Snead threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Shay Hodge to give Ole Miss the lead with 1:58 remaining, then Fon Ingram intercepted a pass and returned it 38 yards to the 17. The Rebels had time for one more play, a 34-yard field goal by Shene that made it 13-7 at halftime.
Ole Miss went ahead 20-7 with 13:21 left in the game when Snead found Wallace wide open in the back of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown. Arkansas' offense came back to life after that with a 97-yard scoring drive.