Tide Hangs On For Win Over Ole Miss

It was expected the Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt would reach into his bag of tricks Saturday. Instead it was Alabama Coach Nick Saban with the surprises--big surprises, including a 6-5, 365-pound surprise. But in the end, Alabama was hanging on by a thread to get by the hard-playing Rebels.

Alabama failed to score in the second half at Bryant-Denny Stadium and Ole Miss had the ball in Crimson Tide territory in the final moments with a chance to upset Bama, but Alabama escaped with a 24-20 victory.

The win improved Alabama's record to 7-0, including a 4-0 Southeastern Conference record. Bama is ranked second in the nation. Ole Miss fell to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in SEC games. The Rebels four losses have been by a total of 19 points.

Alabama continues in SEC play next week as the Crimson Tide goes to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers. Gametime and television coverage will be announced Sunday.

Alabama nose tackle Terrence Cody has gotten quite a reputation for his defensive play. On Saturday, he was also used on offense, a lead blocker for a Crimson Tide touchdown against Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa's Bryant-Denny Stadium.

That was one of just several wrinkles, including a flea-flicker (quarterback John Parker Wilson handing off to tailback Glen Coffee, who lateraled back to Wilson, who threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Mike McCoy).

Ole Miss had its share of trick plays, but the Ole Miss success against Alabama was due mainly to determined play by the underdog Rebels. What seemed would be an easy Alabama victory at halftime when the Tide led 24-3 turned into a nail-biter for Bama.

Alabama found itself trailing for the first time this season late in the first quarter. A 62-yard run by Ole Miss' Enrique Davis put the Rebels first and goal at the Alabama eight. Bama's defense held (including one play when the Tide had just 10 men on the field) and forced a 25-yard field goal by Joshua Shene, giving Mississippi a 3-0 lead with 5:25 to play in the first quarter.

The lead lasted just 1:15.

Alabama took just four plays to go 73 yards and take the lead, 7-3. John Parker Wilson completed a 25-yard pass to Julio Jones, who made the catch despite pass interference. After an incomplete pass, Glen Coffee rushed for 12 yards to the Ole Miss 36. A holding panalty against the Rebels mde it first down at the 26 and then Wilson hit Marquis Maze for the touchdown. Van Tiffin kicked it to 7-3.

Bama had seemed in control earlier in the quarter when Wilson connected with Jones for a 40-yard gain to the Ole Miss 35, but Bama went backwards and ended up punting. Moments later Davis had the big run for the Rebels.

Bama increasted its lead to 14-3 with an 11-play, 60 yard drive that took 5:11 off the clock in the second quarter. The big play in the drive was a third-and-seven in which Wilson was flushed from the pocket. He spotted true freshman tight end Brad Smelley, playing for the first time this year, and hit him with a pass for a 16 yard gain. Coffee followed with runs of 13, 6, 3 and 3 for a first and goal at the five. Mark Ingram got three yards on first down.

On second down, Cody came in at fullback and Ingram followed him into the end zone for the touchdown. Tiffin's kick made it 14-3.

On the next series, Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead's pass down the middle was intercepted by Justin Woodall, a native of Oxford, Miss. Woodall returned 12 yards to the Ole Miss 32. The offense came up short of a first down and Tiffin kicked a field goal to make it 17-3 with 4:45 left in the quarter.

Moments later, Dexter McCluster, a wide receiver who lines up in Mississippi's "Wild Rebel" formation, threw wild down the middle and it was picked off by Bama safety Rashad Johnson. Johnson led the SEC in interceptions last year with six. This was his first interception of the year and he returned it 29 yards to the Ole Miss 26.

On a second-and-14 from the Ole Miss 30, it was trick time. Wilson handed to Coffee, Coffee lateraled back to Wilson, and Wilson made a perfect pass to McCoy who had double coverage in the end zone. It was McCoy's first game back since having a hamstring injury against Georgia. Tiffin's kick made it 24-3.

Ole Miss had a nice drive to open the second half, and punctuated it with a trick play for a Rebels touchdown. Lined up to attempt a field goal from the Alabama nin, holder Rob Park shoveled the pass to Jason Cook, moving from left to right, and Cook just got injto the end zone for the touchdown. Shene's kick pulled Mississippi to with 24-10.

Ole Miss had good field position after Mike Wallace's return of 41 yards to the 48. Bama seemed to have the Rebels stopped with a fourth-and-four at the Tide, but Rebels quarterback Jevan Snead went 17 yards on a quarterback draw to the Tide 10.

It looked like Bama might answer when on third and five from the Alabama 30, Wilson hit rtight end Nick Walker on a 40 yard gain to the Ole Miss 30. But two plays later on what appeared to be a mix-up, Wilson's pass sailed into the hands of the Rebels' Kendrick Lewis.

The worst play for Alabama on the drive was the one on which nose tackle Terrence Cody suffered an apparent knee injury when a player rolled on the back of his leg.

Late in the third quarter it looked as if Ole Miss might close the gap to a touchdown. The Rebels had third and one at he Alabama 24. On third down Brandon Deaderick made the stop for a very short gain. On a fourth down try, freshman linebacker Dont'a Hightower made the tackle for no gain and Bama took over at its 24. On the final play of the third quarter, Mark Ingram picked up 18 yards to the Bama 42.

Alabama came within inches of a first down, but had to punt the ball away. Ole Miss got a 33-yard pass to get out of trouble at the Ole Miss 43. Bama cornerback Kareem Jackson was victimized on that play, but seemed to have made up for it a moment later. Rashad Johnson caused a fumble by the Rebels and Johnson got it for Alabama at the Alabama. But the Tide gave it right back, a fumble by Coffee going to the Rebels at the Bama 34.

The Rebels took advantage of the gift, going the distance in just four plays. Snead hit Shay Hodge on a 17-yard pass to close the gape to 24-17 with nine and a half minutes to play.

Alabama didn't start off well with a holding penalty on the kickoff return, which meant starting at the Tide's 13. Three plays got four yards and the Tide punted to the Rebels at the Mississippi 48. Snead got the job done on a third and 10 with a 30-yard pass pass to Lionel Breaux to the Tide 22. Bama's defense held and forced a field goal attempt. Shene's 36-yard field goal attenmpt hit the right upright and bounced through to pull the Rebels to within 24-20 with 6:09 to play.

Alabama had a little success after the kickoff, but eventually punted back to the Rebels with justg over three minutes to play. Bama defense did the right thing on a couple of plays, but didn't get rewarded. On first down Snead's pass was batted by Tide end Bobby Greenwood,k but the ball went right into the hands of Snead, who scrambled for a five-yard gain. He was seemingly trapped on the next play, but scrambled out to a 10-yard gain.

The Rebels drove to the Alabama 43 and fac ed fourth and five. Snead's final pass was incomplete and all that was left was for Bama to run out the clock.

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