Originally created 01/01/00

Ole Miss posts 4th bowl win in row



SHREVEPORT, La. -- Ole Miss is making itself right at home in the Independence Bowl.

The Rebels, after letting a 21-3 halftime lead slip away, got a 39-yard field goal by Les Binkley on the game's final play Friday night to beat Oklahoma 27-25.

Ole Miss (8-4) won its second straight Independence Bowl and fourth straight bowl game.

Oklahoma, making its first bowl appearance since 1994, wound up 7-5 despite a record-setting performance by quarterback Josh Heupel.

Duece McAllister, who scored two touchdowns and prevented another with a hustling tackle after an interception, helped set up the Rebels' game-winning drive with a 41-yard kickoff return after Oklahoma took the lead with its third touchdown of the half.

McAllister, who finished with 121 yards, had gains of 8 and 9 yards to start the drive. Later, Oklahoma was penalized five yards for having too many players on the field on a third-and-2 play.

That gave Ole Miss a first down at the 27, and three plays later Binkley came on and cleanly made the game-winner.

Moments earlier, it looked as though Oklahoma had pulled off the victory.

Heupel threw three second-half touchdowns, the last a 17-yarder to Quenton Griffin with 2:17 remaining, and the wobbly extra point by Tim Duncan made it 25-24.

Heupel was 39-of-53 for 390 yards, all Independence Bowl records. He led two scoring drives in the third quarter to pull Oklahoma within 21-18, going 10-of-12 for 109 yards on the drives as the Sooners outgained Ole Miss 148-15.

His first touchdown was a 3-yard pass to Jarrail Jackson with 11:26 left in the third. Heupel generated all 80 yards on the next scoring drive, going 6-of-6 and capping it with a 41-yarder to Brandon Daniels.

A 29-yard field goal by Binkley capped a 14-play drive for Ole Miss and gave the Rebels a 24-18 lead with 11:18 remaining.

Heupel appeared to commit a costly turnover when he fumbled at the Rebels 20 on Oklahoma's next drive, but Ole Miss didn't take advantage and Oklahoma got another shot. The Sooners drove 79 yards, including a 24-yard run by Griffin and a 22-yard completion to Brandon Daniels, before scoring the go-ahead touchdown.

The Rebels used big plays on both sides of the ball to build a big first-half lead.

The Sooners drove to the Ole Miss 18 on their first possession, but Tim Duncan missed a 35-yard field goal. The Sooners also lost two fumbles, Heupel's pass was intercepted in the end zone, and a fake field goal on the final play of the half resulted in a 17-yard loss.

Romaro Miller was especially sharp in the first half, when he completed 12-of-17 passes for 158 yards. He had two intercepted, but also had two touchdown passes.

The first was a 25-yarder to McAllister, one play after Miller had hit Mice Flourney on a 45-yard completion.

McAllister came up with a big play three minutes later when he chased down defensive end Cory Heinecke, who had intercepted a pass and returned it 51 yards to the Ole Miss 20. Oklahoma wound up settling for a field goal.

The Rebels used 12 plays and nearly six minutes to score their second touchdown, which came on a 9-yard pass to tight end Adam Bettis. Miller was 5-of-5 passing and kept the drive alive with a 5-yard scramble on third-and-5.

McAllister had an 80-yard touchdown run, the longest in Independence Bowl history, on the first play after Tim Strickland intercepted Heupel's pass in the end zone. McAllister bounced off a defender at the line, cut back and outran a handful of Sooners to the end zone.