Ole Miss Beats Arkansas With Clutch Plays, 27-22
NEW ORLEANS -- Mississippi's Archie Manning and Arkansas' Bill Montgomery provided the expected scoring spectacular for 82,500 fans in the 36th annual Sugar Bowl classic Thursday. But in the end it was safety Glenn Cannon's big defensive plays that saved a 27-22 Rebel victory over the third-ranked Razorbacks. Montgomery, the Arkansas junior quarterback, almost pulled it out for the Razorbacks with his fourth-quarter heroics after his team had dropped behind 24-6 at one point in the second quarter.
Twice in the final going Cannon stopped scoring threats by the Razorbacks when they were only five points behind with a pass interception in his own end zone and a fumble recovery. Cannon's recovery of Arkansas receiver Chuck Dicus' fumble on the Mississippi 28 with 1:08 left nipped what could have been the winning Razorback drive. Dicus, last year's most valuable player in the Sugar Bowl when the Porkers upset Georgia, 16-2, had just caught a 12-yard pass from Montgomery when he coughed up the ball after Cannon's jarring tackle. Just minutes earlier, Cannon broke up third and fourth down passes by Montgomery from the Rebels' 38 to stop another Arkansas threat.
Although Montgomery finished with more impressive aerial statistics than Manning, the 6-foot-3 Rebel quarterback was awarded the Miller-Bigby Trophy as the game's outstanding player. Montgomery completed 17 of 32 passes for 340 yards, falling 12 yards shy of the mark for Sugar Bowl passing set by Florida's Steve Spurrier in a losing effort against Missouri three years ago. Manning completed 21 of 35 passes for 273 yards and picked up another 39 yards on the ground for a total production of 312. He scored one touchdown, running 17 yards in the second quarter and hit Vernon Studdard with a 30-yard touchdown pass in the same period.
Bo Bowen scored the other TD for Ole Miss, galloping 69 yards midway through the first period. Cloyce Hinton accounted for the other Rebel points with a record 52-yard field goal in the second quarter and a 36-yarder in the third period. His 52-yard kick broke the Sugar Bowl record of 49 yards sat by Jerry DePoyster of Wyoming in 1968.
Montgomery threw two touchdown passes for Arkansas, one of 47 yards to Dicus shortly before halftime and the other for six yards to fullback Bruce Maxwell early in the final quarter. Bill Burnett scored Arkansas' first touchdown on a 12-yard run in the second quarter after Ole Miss had taken a 14-0 lead. Bill McClard kicked a 35-yard field goal for Arkansas in the third period after missing 22- and 32-yard attempts and an extra point in the first half. The punting of Ole Miss' Julian Fagan also aided the Rebel cause in the final period. He boomed one punt 40 yards and it rolled out of bounds on the Hogs' three-yard line. His next punt, with 2:33 remaining, went to the Arkansas 13.
Other defensive standouts of the Rebels included linebacker Fred Brister, tackle Buz Morrow and end Hap Farber, who made key third down stops on two occasions in the first quarter, forcing the Razorbacks to try for field goals. Both attempts by McClard were wide. Safety Dennis Berner's interception of a Manning pass that set up the Arkansas touchdown pulled the Hogs within five points in the final quarter and set the stage for the final throbbing minutes. Berner's steal came on the Ole Miss 41 and he returned it to the Rebel 11. Three plays later on a third down situation, Montgomery whipped a six-yard toss to Maxwell in the corner of the end zone for the score. The clock showed 10:15 left to play.
The interception came two minutes after Cannon had made a one-handed theft of Maxwell's halfback option pass, thrown from the 13 into the Rebel end zone. Arkansas finished the regular season with a 9-1 mark and was ranked only behind unbeaten Texas and Penn State among the nation's college powers. The Rebels had a 7-3 season and entered the Sugar Bowl as slight underdogs.