Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics
No. 15 Ole Miss held a halftime lead against No. 12 Alabama, but the Crimson Tide pulled away in the second half to win a hard-fought 24-10 slugfest at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday.
The Rebels (3-1, 0-1 SEC) were evenly matched with the Tide (3-1, 1-0 SEC), but Alabama was able to grind Ole Miss down in the late stages of the tug-of-war, winning the second half 18-3 to hand Ole Miss its first loss of the season.
Quarterback Jaxson Dart went 20-for-35, throwing for 244 yards and scoring the only Ole Miss touchdown of the day with his legs. Jordan Watkins caught a career-high nine receptions for 57 yards, and Dayton Wade add five catches for 88 yards. Quinshon Judkins handled most of the carries on the ground, rushing 13 times for 56 yards.
Linebacker Ashanti Cistrunk led the Rebels in tackles with a season-high of eight while also recovering his first fumble of the season on a kickoff return. Freshman linebacker Suntarine Perkins had two sacks for the first multi-sack game of his career.
After an opening drive that stalled out in just five plays for the Rebels, Alabama picked up the first points of the day on their opening drive, as Will Reichard knocked down a 48-yard field goal.
It didn’t take long for Ole Miss to answer back, as the offense drove 75 yards down the field in under four minutes and scored the first touchdown of the day on the ensuing drive. Dart opened the drive with a 40-yard pass to Dayton Wade and would end up scoring by himself on a 10-yard touchdown run up the middle. It was his third rushing touchdown of the season, a new single-season career high for the junior.
Three drives later, Alabama marched 66 yards down the field looking to score until Zamari Walton grabbed his first interception in a Rebel uniform, picking off Jalen Milroe in the endzone.
A blocked punt at the end of Ole Miss’ next drive would give the Crimson Tide the ball back at the Rebel one yardline, but the Ole Miss defense was able to rise to the occasion once again. A fumbled snap and back-to-back sacks from Jamond Gordon and Ladarius Tennison held Alabama to just a field goal.
Caden Davis missed a 34-yard field goal with 13 seconds left in the half, but Ole Miss would go into the halftime break with a 7-6 lead.
The Ole Miss defense racked up four sacks, held the Crimson Tide to just 115 yards, and did not allow a touchdown in the opening half for the second time in as many games.
Alabama opened the second half with another Reichard field goal, this time from 23 yards out to give the Tide the lead. A Dart interception at the far end of the field on the next drive would lead to a Jalen Hale 33-yard touchdown from Milroe. Alabama would get the two-point conversion and take a 17-7 lead with 6:29 to play in the third quarter.
Ole Miss scored its only points of the second half on a Caden Davis 35-yard field goal that made it 17-10 as the teams headed to the final quarter of play.
Alabama opened the fourth quarter with its second touchdown of the game, going 75 yards in six plays and taking a 24-10 lead on an eight-yard Jase McClellan scoring run. The Crimson Tide put up 241 yards of offense and 18 total points in the second half.
The Rebels went 55 yards on 15 plays during their final drive of the game, but would end up turning the ball over on downs with just 2:06 left to play.
Ole Miss will return home for another SEC West matchup against No. 12 LSU next Saturday, September 30. Kickoff inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT on ESPN.
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports