Overtime Win

It was hardly a classic, but it was a victory. Alabama's football team had all sorts of struggles Saturday, but finally got the act together in overtime to take a 26-23 win over Mississippi as the Tide executed a nice third down, two-yard pass to fullback Le'Ron McClain.

Final Stats:

With a first-and-goal at the Ole Miss three-yard line, Alabama seemed to be in excellent shape even though trailing 23-20 in the overtime. But two runs by Tim Castille from the Jumbo Package left the Crimson Tide facing a third-and-goal from the two. Bama faked another Castille plunge in the middle with quarterback John Parker Wilson carrying out a nice fake. He then passed to fullback LeRon McClain, who stretched out and made a nice catch for the winning touchdown.

The game ended 20-20 and the Rebels got a 37-yard field goal from Joshua Shene to take a 23-20 lead before Alabama got the ball. Keith Saunders made a big third down play for Alabama on defense to force the field goal try for the Rebels.

In overtime, each team gets the ball at the 25-yard line going in and keeps it until the offense scores or is stopped without a first down or score.

Alabama got its overtime possession off to a good start as Kenneth Darby, who would finish with 25 carries for 162 yards, ran for six yards on first down. He got only one yard on the next play, and Wilson connected on a pass to Will Oakley (who had his first career start this year) at the Ole Miss 13. Darby gained eight yards on first down from there, and two plays later Wilson sneaked for the first down at the three, setting up the winning touchdown.

With the win, Alabama improved to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in Southeastern Conference play. The Rebels dropped to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in conference competition.

Alabama continues in SEC play next Saturday when the Crimson Tide goes to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Vols. Tennessee, which had an open date this weekend, is 5-1 overall and 1-1 in SEC games. CBS will televise the game with kickoff at 2:30 CDT.

There had been a consideration that if Alabama had played the first eight minutes of its game against Duke the way theCrimson Tide played the final eight minutes, that game would have been a rout instead of the nail-biter it was. Against Ole Miss, the Tide played the first four minutes in near-perfect fashion. The special teams covered the opening kickoff well, the defense held three-and-out, and the offense drove 56 yards in four plays to a 7-0 lead. The drive took only 1:23.

But anyone expecting a rout by the Tide was due to be disappointed.

Wilson got that first crisp drive started with a 12-yard swing pass to Darby. Wilson scrambled for a seven-yard gain. And on a third-and-five he connected with D.J. Hall on a pas that looked like it would be good for a first down. But Hall made it a lot better than that with a nifty move to get free down the middle of the field, then out-raced the defense for a 39-yard touchdown.

Unfortunately, Bama played the next four minutes—and much of the remainder of the game--like Alabama was Duke. The defense gave up a long scramble and compounded it with a personal foul, and the Rebels drove 82 yards in nine plays taking 4:25 to tie the game. BenJarvus Green-Ellis got the Rebels' touchdown on a six-yard run.

One thing that looked vintage 2006 Alabama was the Crimson Tide's first trip into the Red Zone. Bama drove to the 17 and got a five-yard run from Kenneth Darby as the first quarter ended. But the first two plays of the second quarter came up two yards short and Jamie Christensen kicked Alabama to a 10-7 lead with a 26-yard field goal. The field goal was a somewhat unsatisfactory conclusion to a drive that started out first and 20 from its on 30.

Mississippi also stalled in the Red Zone, settling for a 36-yard Joshua Shene field goal. The Rebels had held the ball for 11 plays and driven 41 yards after a 35-yard kickoff return by Mico McSwain. It was 10-10 midway through the second quarter.

Bama had another promising drive after Javier Arenas gave Bama good field position with a 31-yard kickoff return to the Alabama 43. Darby gained 11 at right end, then John Parker Wilson completed a couple of passes. But facing second and two, Bama seemingly tried to appease those who don't want "predictable" plays. The Tide missed on a pass to the end zone on second down. And on the play wide receiver D.J. Hall went out with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. (Hall returned in the third quarter.) On third down, Bama put back-up tailback Jimmy Johns at quarterback in the shotgun and his draw play came up short. Johns got out of the game with what appeared to be an ankle injury. On fourth down, Wilson had tight end Nick Walker wide open, but overthrew and the promising series had come to an end.

Ole Miss didn't worry about trying to trick Bama. With the Rebels offensive line opening big holes, Mississippi kept it simple. Brent Schaeffer completed a few safe sideline passes and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis pounded it up the middle. Mississippi was able to drive to a first and goal at the Alabama seven with 40 seconds until halftime. Two running plays got only a yard and took up 36 seconds. After a timeout, Shene kicked a 23-yad field goal to give the Rebels a 13-10 halftime lead. Ole Miss had run out the final 5:38 of the first half in driving from its 27 to the Alabama 6 in 11 plays to the go-ahead points.

Alabama had an excellent drive that, unfortunately, ended up in the Red Zone, which meant a typical conclusion.

Field goal.

Christensen tied the game with 4:25 remaining in the third quarter with a 26-yard field goal, the final play of a drive that lasted 6:33. Bama started at its own 28, was penalized back to the 15, got a 36-yard third-and-25 pass from Wilson to Hall. Darby had his longest run of the year, 21 yards, which would soon be eclipsed. And Bama looked likely to get an elusive touchdown, but fullback Le'Ron McClain dropped a pass.

Darby had his longest run of the season for the second time in the game, a 37-yarder to the Ole Miss 43 as Bama got the ball back at its 20 late in the third quarter. Wilson scrambled for four as the quarter ended. A pass interference call against Ole Miss moved Bama to the Ole Miss 19 (inside the Red Zone), a play on which Keith Brown came out with a leg injury. (Brown did not return.) Darby got three, McClain with great effort got six on a pass reception for a third-and-one at the 10, and then Tim Castille from the tailback spot picked up the first down at the Ole Miss 7.

On first down Darby ran it to the two, which got him out of the game. Castille went back to running back in Bama's Jumbo Package and took it over right guard for the touchdown with 10:32 remaining in the game. After a short delay while officials reviewed the touchdown run, Christensen kicked Bama to a 20-13 lead. The 80-yard drive in nine plays took 5:50.

Ole Miss didn't take near as much time to tie the game. And the Rebels' had a trick play that worked. After Alabama kicked off out of bounds for the second time in the game, giving the Rebels the ball at the 35, Mississippi got a huge break when an apparent interception by the Tide's Ramzee Robinson was wiped out by Alabama being offsides. Still, the Bama defense seemed to get the job done as Ole Miss went into punt formation at its own 40, fourth-and-five. But punter Rob Park pulled the ball down and passed to Bruce Hall, who made a first down by inches.

On the next play Schaeffer scramble to his right and completed a 55-yard bomb to split end Mike Wallace to tie the game at 20.

Alabama had a nice drive to the Ole Miss 27, but with just over four minutes to play Darby was stopped short on a fourth-and-two by the Rebels' All-American linebacker Patrick Willis. Neither team threatened again and the game went to overtime.ju9


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