[NEW ORLEANS] In his final game at the helm of the Ole Miss offense, Matt Corral suffered a game-ending injury in the first quarter. Corral’s lower-leg injury proved to be too detrimental for the Rebels to bounce back from, falling to the Baylor Bears 21-7.
After an offensive turnover on the first drive of the game, the Landshark defense came up with a huge fourth down stop to bring the momentum back. The Rebel offensive line could not hold their ground against the rampant Baylor Bears, leading to the sack that took Corral out for the remainder of the game.
“So my mind raced with a lot of thoughts right there,” Kiffin said. “That’s just for my love for him, just like I would if it was my own son in that situation. So maybe I didn’t do a great enough job with the team because I was really hurting for him in that situation because I know how much he’s put into it, how much it means to him. And for that to be taken away like that really sucks.”
Despite a strong defensive stand in the first half, a pick-six off of Luke Altmyer put the Bears up 7-0 with all of the momentum now behind them. The Ole Miss defense continued to put on a show for the first half, holding the Bears to 140 yards on the ground and only allowed three third down conversions on 17 attempts.
A stagnant third quarter was busted open with a dime of a touchdown pass from Altmyer to Braylon Sanders to tie the game up at seven a piece.
With the offensive line getting obliterated up front and giving up 10 sacks throughout the game, the defensive effort was not enough to stop Baylor as they found the back of the endzone two more times in the fourth quarter, pushing past the Rebels to secure the win, 21-7.
Losing the clear heart and soul of the Ole Miss team early in the game was not the way any fan anticipated this season to go out. The passion that Corral has for his teammates and Ole Miss community has placed him in the highest regard of players and fans.
“Matt is a special leader and a special player. So when he’s not there, he brings a lot of juice to the team and obviously a lot of excitement and a lot of hope,” linebacker Chance Campbell said. “I think the guys had a lot of trust in Luke (Altmyer), and I’m personally proud of how he stepped in there. As Coach (Lane) Kiffin said, it’s a really difficult situation. He’s a young guy. I’m proud of him. But when Matt went down, that was tough.”
Campbell’s performance in the Sugar Bowl added to his season-long success with 10 total tackles, bringing his season total to 99 solo tackles and six sacks.
With Corral’s early departure, Rebel faithful will hold their breath until April 28 to find out where QB will land in the League.
Along with Corral, running back Jerrion Ealy declared for the draft following the Sugar Bowl loss.
Ole Miss will return to the gridiron on Sept. 3 against Troy at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.