Obomanu stars, then drops winning TD

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Mississippi got the drive, the drop and the

huge win -- a scintillating blend of clutch plays and breaks that

pushed the Rebels a step closer to their first SEC Western Division


Brandon Jacobs had a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:39 left, and

Ben Obomanu dropped a pass in the end zone on Auburn's final drive,

giving the Rebels a 24-20 victory Saturday.

Three Auburn defenders had trouble bringing down Ole Miss' Chris Collins (center) during the Rebels' 24-20 victory.
Three Auburn defenders had trouble bringing down Ole Miss' Chris Collins (center) during the Rebels' 24-20 victory.
AP Photo

The Rebels (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today) moved to 6-0 in the Southeastern Conference for the

first time since 1962, propelled by a six-game winning streak and

the arm of Eli Manning.

"This is the reason I came back for my senior year, to lead

this team to Atlanta," said Manning, who can make final travel

plans for the SEC championship game with a win in two weeks over

No. 4 LSU.

Ole Miss (8-2) pulled off only its second victory over the

fading Tigers (6-4, 4-2) in the last 11 meetings. Despite two

first-half touchdown passes, Manning was having a mediocre

afternoon by his standards until a brilliant, 80-yard drive in the

final minutes.

On third-and-11, he hit Bill Flowers for 16 yards. Manning came

up even bigger on the next third-down play, lofting a 49-yard pass

to Lorenzo Townsend down the left sideline under pressure.

Two plays later, Manning set up first-and-goal at the 1 with a

2-yard sneak on third down, and Jacobs jumped into the end zone on

the next play.

"When my number was called, I knew I was going to score and I

did," Jacobs said. "This team is about different players stepping

up and making plays each night.

"Our goal from the start is to win the West and we are in

control of that now."

A little late luck propelled the Rebels on their way.

Auburn and Jason Campbell -- leader of the league's worst passing

offense -- went to work against the nation's 115th-rated pass

defense after Jacobs' TD plunge.

The Tigers drove all the way to the 3, thanks mostly to a

terrific 50-yard catch-and-run by Obomanu. On third-and-2, Campbell

rolled right and, with two defenders in pursuit, spotted a

wide-open Obomanu in the end zone.

The ball hit the sophomore receiver on his No. 2 and bounced

off, spoiling his best career game. On fourth down, a nearly

identical play ended with Campbell forced to loft it toward Jeris

McIntyre, but Eric Oliver batted it away at the last second.

"I really haven't dropped a pass in practice or anything for

about two weeks now," said Obomanu, who had a 68-yard touchdown

among six catches for 150 yards. "It hurts real bad, of course.

"I was right there in good position, wide open in the back of

the end zone."

He said he misjudged the ball and started to leap when he didn't

need to.

"He made a heck of a run to get us down there," coach Tommy

Tuberville said. "He gave us a chance. That's all you can say."

The loss killed the SEC title hopes for the Tigers, heavy

preseason favorites after entering the season ranked No. 6 only to

wind up a candidate for the year's biggest flop.

They've gone from talking titles to hoping for a decent bowl


"Unfortunately, we are knocked out of Atlanta," said tailback

Carnell Williams, who ran for 103 yards and a touchdown. "We

should be able to win our next two and go to a pretty good bowl."

Ole Miss has its first six-game winning streak since getting

seven straight victories in 1990, and the fans remained in their

seats cheering the Rebels well after the final whistle.

Every other Western Division team has won the division, and

Manning and Co. might be poised to join them.

"We saw 15-20 plays that if we hadn't made them, we wouldn't

have had a chance to win that football game," Ole Miss coach David

Cutcliffe said.

"I can't say enough about how good (Manning) played tonight.

Manning was 19-of-30 for 218 yards and two touchdowns but Ole

Miss controlled the ball for more than 33 minutes against the

league's No. 2 rushing team.

Unable to get their running game going, the Tigers finally went

deep against the Rebels' porous pass defense late in the third

quarter. Campbell's pass was deflected right into Obomanu's hands

for the 68-yard touchdown to give Auburn a 17-14 lead with 2:06

left. It was the team's longest pass play of the season.

The Rebels tied it early in the fourth on a 42-yard field goal

by Jonathan Nichols.

Auburn's Philip Yost then kicked his second field goal, a

30-yarder, with 10:45 remaining but would push a 32-yarder wide

left a few minutes later.