OXFORD, Miss. — All of Alabama’s offensive touchdowns were scored on the ground Saturday in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium as the No. 1 Crimson Tide defeated the No. 17 Ole Miss Rebels, 48-43.
But, there were only three offensive touchdowns. Adam Griffith hit two field goals from 32 and 30 yards out to represent the special teams unit along with an 85-yard punt return from Eddie Jackson. The other three Alabama scores came from the defense.
“What a great college football game,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “I never ever remember coming back from being 18 points down then being 18 points ahead.”
Ole Miss running back Akeem Judd scored the first touchdown of the game on a 23-yard run, which Alabama responded to with Griffith’s first field goal.
Later in the half, the Rebels made their way back down the field, far enough that Gary Wunderlich could nail a 23-yard field goal. Quarterback Chad Kelly quickly connected a 63-yard pass to tight end Evan Engram for another Old Miss score.
Alabama had the ball back, but quarterback Jalen Hurts fumbled, and Ole Miss defensive lineman John Youngblood not only recovered it, he returned it 44 yards for a touchdown.
Soon enough, Ole Miss had its 21-point lead. No team has ever held such an advantage over the Crimson Tide since Saban took over in 2007.
With just over two minutes left until halftime, however, wide receiver Calvin Ridley became the first Crimson Tide member to enter the end zone, scoring on a 6-yard, and cutting into the Rebels’ large lead.
Ole Miss went three-and-out in the following drive and was forced to punt. It sent the ball sailing 53 yards to Jackson. The Alabama defensive back caught the ball and took off.
Once he got going, Jackson didn’t stop until he reached the end zone, bringing the Crimson Tide to within a touchdown of the Rebels as the teams headed into halftime, 24-17.
“We told the players we thought this was going to be a 60-minute game,” Saban said. “We probably would have to wear them down and beat them in the second half.”
For the first real action of the third quarter, Alabama defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne picked up a fumble and scored off a 3-yard run to tie the game, 24-24.
It was Griffith’s second field goal that gave Alabama the lead over the Rebels for the first time in almost two years, but Ole Miss responded with an 18-yard field goal of its own.
There was just over a minute left in the third quarter when Alabama running back Damien Harris broke out a 67-yard run, which Bo Scarbrough, also a running back, was able to build off of and score on a 1-yard run to put Alabama back ahead, where it would stay until the final buzzer.
“You have to give a lot of credit to all phases of the game [Saturday],” Saban said.
Defensive lineman Jonathan Allen recorded four tackles, but the highlight of his night was an interception he snagged and returned 75 yards to score a touchdown.
During the final stretch, Ole Miss was able to add another 38-yard field goal and reach the end zone two more times as Kelly produced a 5-yard pass to Damore’ea Stringfellow and a 37-yard pass to A.J. Brown, both wide receivers.
It still wasn’t enough for the Rebels, though.
“It was a great team win and we needed about every guy that we had out there to contribute in some way,” Saban said.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports