Tide, Rebs Reflect On 24-20 Nail-Biter

The inability to finish a game, and in some cases a play, nearly cost number two Alabama in its head-scratching--but not back-breaking--win over Ole Miss. Bama took a 24-3 lead to the dressing room at the half, and had to hang on for dear life in a 24-20 victory.

Alabama has posted a 171-23 advantage in the first 30 minutes of games this season. The second halves have not been nearly as kind, as the Tide has been outscored 68-55.

"You certainly get frustrated, because its something we talk about all the time," said Alabama senior quarterback John Parker Wilson, who threw two touchdowns but also tossed an interception with his team in field goal range. "We've got to cut that out. We've got to start scoring in the second half, and putting teams away."

Wilson was 16-25 passing for 219 yards, two touchdowns, and one pick.

"We came out and Coach (Nick Saban) said, ‘Let's go into this game and lets finish it,'" said senior safety Rashad Johnson, who recorded his first interception of the year. "We came out and we didn't do what he said. I don't know if it was a lack of intensity, or a lack of focus, but they've got good players, and they were making plays."

"We allowed them to get back in it," said junior linebacker Cory Reamer. "We should have shut them down. They had that faked field goal. That really helped them out and got the momentum going for them. We gave up too many big plays. They came out firing. They were behind so they came out firing the ball. We just made too many mistakes."

"In the first half we protected the football and we did a good job and started fast," said senior center Antoine Caldwell. "From here on out, instead of doing that in the first half we have to do that the whole game. This game really should not have come down to the last drive of the game. We have to do a much better job of that."

Ole Miss' second-half rally gave them a final edge in total offensive yards, 359-326.

When the game was on the line with just over a minute to go and Ole Miss driving, the Alabama defense made a play when it had to, pressuring Ole Miss quarterback Jevon Snead into throwing a fourth down pass earlier than he'd planned.

"Their defense did a good job and I felt like I had to get rid of the ball, and unfortunately I wasn't able to get it where I wanted to go with it," said Snead. "I should have gone back to the drag but I felt pressured and I'm sure the drag was open and if I could go back I would.

"They're a great team. They're ranked where they are for a reason. I think if we can get together we can play in the first half and be a lot better."

Tide junior Javier Arenas said, "As a national championship competitor, teams are going to be after us. We still need to get better each and every week," said the cornerback/kick returner, who covering Snead‘s intended receiver on the critical play. Arenas had five solo tackles, but did give up a touchdown pass to Shay Hodge.

He finished with 118 yards in punt and kick returns.

"We should have gone out there in the second half like we did in the first half, with intensity, and put it to them like we did in the first half," said defensive end Lorenzo Washington.

"Our guys came back in the second half after we didn't have a very good first half. Defense played extremely hard and did a good job of really crowding the line of scrimmage," said Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt. "I felt we tackled against a good offensive team.

"Offensively we came back and put some drives together. Felt like the fake field goal gave us a little lift and got us on the board. Defense got some turnovers for us and we capitalized on a couple of those drives. We hurt ourselves with a penalty at a bad time and then a fumble at a bad time. You just can't do that to beat a number two team in the country. Tell you what we do have, we got some fighters and some guys that are really believing and if they keep doing that, good things are going to happen."

But why the difference in intensity levels for both teams between the first and second halves?

"I don't know if we came out playing hard or what it was exactly. In the second half we got in the locker room and went over what we had to do and we decided we were here to play and we were not just going to give up," said Snead. "Nobody on our team gave up and I'm just fortunate to be on a team like that." Snead finished the game with 192 yards on 16-for-31 passing with one interception and one touchdown.

Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC) travels to Knoxville to face Tennessee next week. Ole Miss fell to 3-4, 1-3, and will be on the road at Arkansas Saturday.

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