Alabama may have received the kickoff on Saturday, but within six seconds, Ole Miss recovered a fumble and Alabama’s defense was out on the field sooner than it expected.
It came out amped up, however. At its own 17-yard line, the Alabama defense held the Rebels and forced them to settle for a field goal. Six plays later, defense was back out again. It kept it quick once again, forcing a punt after four plays thanks to two batted down passes.
The fire the Alabama defense possessed early on in the game slowly fizzled out though.
“We batted some balls down early, which was a big thing we wanted to do,” coach Nick Saban said. “I thought we did a good job on defense for a while but then we gave away big plays in the second half and that was critical.”
Reggie Ragland led Alabama’s defense with nine total tackles, four solo. He assisted in a sack for a loss of two yards. Total, Alabama defense sacked Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly six times for a loss of 18 yards.
Going into half time, Ole Miss led 17-10. Then, there were two big plays that changed the game.
This first play will boggle football fans minds for quite some time. The Rebels’ quarterback threw a 66-yard touchdown pass that can only be described as a hot potato pass as it bounced off one Ole Miss player then an Alabama player, only to finally find its way into the waiting arms of Quincy Adeboyejo.
“It wasn’t a blown coverage,” Alabama defensive back Cyrus Jones said. “I batted the ball down and it knocked on somebody’s helmet or something like that and bounced right into his hands. I don’t know.”
After that, the momentum seemed to swing in favor of Ole Miss. Two field goals followed, creating the largest score different of the game, 30-10.
That touchdown reignited the spark in Alabama during that final quarter.
“We never got down on ourselves,” Jones said. “We always knew it felt like we were in the game. It just took one or two plays here and there. We made the plays at time and times we didn’t.”
Alabama started the fourth with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Jake Coker to ArDarius Stewart, decreasing the Rebels’ lead to only six points.
It was a moment where a comeback seemed possible.
Then, the second big play for the Ole Miss offense happened. On a 73-yard touchdown pass form Kelly, Cody Core was wide open and ran his way into the end zone without a defender on his tail.
“We had a coverage bust on the long pass, a miscommunication,” Saban said. “Everybody wasn’t playing the same coverage on the option pass they hit.”
Core was Marlon Humphrey’s to cover, but he read the play wrong. Although the play was reviewed, in the end, the touchdown still stood. Ole Miss widened the score gap again, 36-24.
“You’re always going to be upset when you miss a play,” Jones said. “At corner, you got to have a short memory and be ready to play.”
Although there were other big plays in the second half, Saban said the bust on that long pass was huge for Ole Miss.
“They do a great job of executing their offense,” he said. “Their quarterback played very well.”
Ole Miss increased its lead, 43-24, with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Laquon Treadwell. That was the last scoring play the Alabama defense allowed Ole Miss.
“Even when we were down 19, we still felt like we were in the game,” wide receiver Richard Mullaney said. “We kept shooting ourself in the foot the whole game. Ole Miss is a good team and when you give a good team a chance – chances like we did – it’s hard to win the game.”
Jones said he didn’t think that Ole Miss wore out the Alabama defense at all though–defense fought hard the entire game. There may have been those big plays, but that didn’t mean it was the end. He said that as long as there was time on the clock, the team felt like it had a chance.
In the end, whether defense lost its energy or not to the Ole Miss offense, the Rebels won for the second year in a row by six points, 43-37.
“I don’t think their schemes fooled us at all, Jones said. “We gave them plays. They didn’t beat us. We beat ourselves.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports