Mississippi held off Tennessee 31-26 on Saturday night after Rebels coach Lane Kiffin was forced to dodge 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. Kiffin later said that one of the golf ball did find its target. “I got hit with a golf ball, but at least whoever threw it was smart enough to throw a dirty range ball,” he told ESPN.
“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.
“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.”
Tennessee chancellor Donde Plowman tweeted her dismay at the scenes on Saturday: “I am astonished and sickened by the behavior of some Vol fans at the end of tonight’s game,” she wrote. “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.”
“I wish [Tennessee] had better class,” Ole Miss linebacker Mark Robinson said. “We just came here to win a game and we did.”
The SEC commissioner, Greg Sankey, said in a statement that he would consider penalties after Saturday’s chaos.
“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,” he said in a statement.
“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.”