John Michael Simpson
The Alabama Crimson Tide (6-1, 3-1) kept its home winning streak alive by tacking on win number 18 against the Ole Miss Rebels (3-3, 1-2) with a final of 23-10.
After last week’s loss to South Carolina, the Tide came back to Tuscaloosa for its homecoming game, welcoming back Alabama alumni both in the stands and on the field with a win to bounce back from defeat.
“The goal of this game was for us to get back to playing with the kind of effort, the kind of toughness and discipline and execution, to play with the intensity that you need to play with to play winning football,” said head coach Nick Saban.
“And we probably hit on the toughness part. I thought we gave much better effort in this game. The intensity was good. The execution was not what it needs to be. But that’s something that we can improve on.”
The game started with an Alabama defensive stop followed by an Alabama field goal when it was fourth and 10 on the 20-yard line. However, an Ole Miss penalty gave the Tide a first down, and the offense was able to produce a touchdown instead; Alabama took an early 7-0 lead.
Despite a broken left hand, wide receiver Julio Jones was also in the game for a few snaps, grabbing one reception for an 8-yard gain. Saban said Jones left the game because his hand was hurting him and that he could’ve come back into the game, but they decided to keep him out.
“In the second half, we decided we weren’t going to play him unless we had to play him,” Saban said. “And so we just ended up not playing him.”
Into the second quarter and up 10-0, Marquis Maze had a big punt return; tacking on another Ole Miss penalty gave Alabama the ball at the Rebel 8-yard line. However, the Tide was unable to get six points, and kicker Jeremy Shelley added on another field goal.
The next punt Maze caught and fumbled on the return, giving Ole Miss the ball at the Alabama 21. The defense held the Rebels to a field goal. Then with another Alabama field goal, the Tide led at the half, 16-3.
In the third quarter, Alabama got its biggest play of the game when quarterback Greg McElroy threw a screen pass to running back Trent Richardson for an 85-yard touchdown.
“They kind of gave me the corner, and the cornerback tried to hit me, but I set him up with a block,” Richardson said. “So after that, it was just a race right there.”
On Ole Miss’ next possession, the Rebels took it 71 yards down the field for the its only touchdown of the game. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli threw a 15-yard pass to Melvin Harris to cut the lead to 13.
Alabama sealed the game in the fourth quarter when safety Mark Barron intercepted Masoli’s pass with about five minutes left. Though Shelley missed a 42-yard field goal attempt, the Tide still held a convincing 13-point lead.
Next week, the Tide travels to Knoxville, Tenn., to take on the Tennessee Volunteers. The past two Southeastern Conference road games this year have proved difficult for Alabama, and Barron said the team will have to work hard to keep Tennessee at bay.
“We really have to react great because really we haven’t played that great on the road so far,” Barron said. “So we have to go out and show that we can do that, go out on the road and execute.”