For the first time since 2009, the Ole Miss Rebels got a conference victory on the road. The Rebels (5-3, 2-2 SEC) are now one win away from becoming bowl eligible after defeating Arkansas (3-5, 2-3 SEC) 30-27 in Little Rock, Ark., at War Memorial Stadium.
The win was an emotional one for the Rebels and it came down to the very last play of the game. The pressure fell on the shoulders of senior kicker Bryson Rose, who had his struggles earlier in the season.
“I think at the start of the year I tried to have such a great season and I focused on it so much, I forgot to have fun,” Rose said. “That’s the main thing. I talked to my dad and some other people and they just told me to have fun with it; that’s the main thing.”
Rose had already connected on kicks of 27 and 53 yards, a career-long, in the game before his final attempt of 31 yards.
“I was out there with Chris Conley, the holder, and he was just making me comfortable,” Rose said. “He was telling me jokes to keep me calm and cool.”
Rose was just that and drilled the game-winning field goal.
“I hit it then I looked up and I had everyone jumping on me,” Rose said. “I didn’t even watch it go through. It is an awesome experience.”
With the win, Freeze and his staff believe that it is a sign of things to come for the program.
“It’s a good sign for sure,” Freeze said. “You’ll never get me to say that we’ve arrived anywhere. We are still on a journey, we’re still young and inexperienced, but our coaching staff, our strength staff, our support staff has done a remarkable job with building relationships with these kids where there is some trust being built and obviously the kids deserve most of the credit for bouncing back from a very difficult loss, particularly the ones who were here during the two lean years that they had been in. They easily could have gone the other way, but obviously they made a decision that we are going to fight for 60 minutes and see what the scoreboard says.”
Ole Miss has turned the tables from years past and is playing with newfound confidence, courage and character on the field this season. Freeze said he isn’t surprised by the team’s turnaround.
“I just kind of expect that,” Freeze said. “I think if we carry that kind of demeanor with us then, particularly now that they’ve had a little success, that hopefully they will carry that same demeanor. I’ve been with the majority of this staff for the last few years and even some before and we just know we are going to coach as hard as we can for 60 minutes and a lot of things can happen in that course of the game. You have to stay confident and positive and the minute I get negative, that will affect our team.”