When Jonathan Allen decided to return to Alabama for his senior season rather than declaring early for the NFL draft, it was a given that it would be good for the Crimson Tide defense. The 6-3, 291-pound defensive end was (and is) expected to be a force in the Bama pass rush and run defense.
And something good for Jonathan Allen is that he has a dream memory for a defensive lineman. Alabama’s third interception return for a touchdown this season was critical to the Tide’s 48-43 win over Ole Miss in Oxford Saturday.
Bama was leading 41-30 with about six minutes to play, but Ole Miss had never given up (and never would). The Rebels had driven to the Alabama 20 and faced third-and-nine. Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly, who would finish the day with 26 completions in 41 attempts for 421 yards and three touchdowns, was obviously going to pass.
Outside linebacker Tim Williams managed to get a hand on Kelly’s throwing arm, disrupting his pass. The ball went right into the breadbasket of Allen at the 25-yard line.
“I was just trying to wrap inside, and then I got my head up and the ball just happened to bounce my way,” Allen said.
There was a clear field ahead down the right side and Allen took off, eventually picking up an escort of celebrating teammates. “Thank God for my teammates blocking for me,” Allen said after the game. “They’re the ones that really allowed me to get to the end zone, and I give them a lot of credit.”
Allen was generous. His teammates had about as much to do with his score as the cheerleaders.
His touchdown increased the Alabama lead to 48-30 with five-and-a-half minutes to play.
Allen said the environment in Oxford was “hostile” with “a lot of energy. As a team, we feed off that. We just need to come out and start better and finish better.”
That’s true. Alabama started slow, falling behind by 24-3. And the Tide didn’t finish well, allowing the Rebels to come back from the 18-point deficit to within 5 points with almost three minutes to play.
Allen didn’t consider Alabama’s win to make up for Ole Miss having won the game in both 2014 and 2015. “It’s always a big deal when you can get a win on the road against an SEC West opponent,” Allen said. “You’ve got to give Ole Miss a lot of credit. They competed their butts off. It was really just a great team effort.”