No. 13 Ole Miss beats Tennessee 31-26; fans pelt field

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – No. 13 Mississippi held off Tennessee 31-26 on Saturday night after Rebels coach Lane Kiffin avoided being by hit by golf balls as Volunteers fans pelted the field with objects in the chaotic final minutes.

Ole Miss stopped Tennessee a yard shy of a first down on a fourth-and-24 pass with just over a minute left. After that play, and the review that confirmed the spot of the ball, Tennessee fans pelted the field with objects. Tennessee’s cheerleaders, dance team and band were ordered out of the stadium and police cleared the student section.

“I don’t know if I’m more excited that we found a way to win or that I didn’t get hit with the golf balls that they were throwing at me,” former Vols coach Kiffin told SEC Network, holding up a yellow golf ball.

“I still have my souvenir golf ball,” Kiffin said. “I also got hit with bottles with some brown stuff in them. I don’t think those fans would waste moonshine. You’ve got one of the most passionate fan bases in America. A call didn’t go their way.”

Play resumed after about a 20-minute delay.

Matt Corral threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 195 yards for Mississippi (5-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference). Hendon Hooker threw for 233 yards and a touchdown and for Tennessee (4-3, 2-2) and ran for 108 yards and a score.

“I’m disappointed in the way the game ended with things being thrown from the crowd,” Tennessee coach Josh Heupel said. “I know that’s very few of our crowd members. For the most part of the game, what an unbelievable atmosphere to see Vol Nation show out the way they did.”

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement, saying:

“The Conference has established expectations for behavior and sportsmanship, and the actions of fans at Saturday night’s game were unacceptable under any circumstances. We are accustomed to intense competition every week, but under no circumstances is it acceptable to endanger the contest participants and disrupt a game. We will review existing Conference policies and the Commissioner’s authority to impose penalties and communicate with the leadership at the University of Tennessee – and all of the SEC’s member universities – to make certain this situation is not repeated.”

Tennessee Chancellor Donde Plowman tweeted:

“I am astonished and sickened by the behavior of some Vol fans at the end of tonight’s game. Good sportsmanship must be part of who we are as Volunteers. Behavior that puts student-athletes, coaches, visitors and other fans at risk is not something we will tolerate.”

After play resumed, Tennessee’s Velus Jones returned a punt 40 yards to the Ole Miss 47. Hooker ran 14 yards, but was injured with 18 seconds to play. Joe Milton came off the bench to hit Walker Merrill for 12 yards to the 21. Milton spiked the ball, then misfired into the end zone, setting up the final play. Milton ran 13 yards on the final play and was pushed out of bounds at the 8 as time expired.

“I wish (Tennessee) had better class,” Ole Miss linebacker Mark Robinson said. “We just came here to win a game and we did.”

With Tennessee down 31-19 after three quarters, Hooker tightened it with a 5-yard scoring run less than 2 minutes into the fourth quarter.

Jones had a 29-yard reception on the first possession of the second half to set the table for Jabari Small to score from a yard out to cut the Rebel lead to 24-19. It went to 31-19 when Corral found Dontario Drummond for a 16-yard score to close out the third quarter.

TAKEAWAYS

Mississippi: Kiffin was only at Tennessee one season, and the fans who packed Neyland Stadium wouldn’t let him forget his transgression against the Vols. “The game wasn’t about me,” Kiffin said. “It feels better walking of winning when (fans) are saying all those things rather than losing.

Tennessee: The game was another step in the growth process by a program that was decimated by defections when Josh Heupel took over.

UP NEXT

Mississippi: At Arkansas on Saturday.

Tennessee: At Alabama on Saturday.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.