Rebs fall to Tide 28-7

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - With Alabama leading 21-0 in the third quarter, Ole Miss made a quarterback change for the first time this season as Micheal Spurlock, the fourth-year junior heir apparent to Eli Manning, was replaced by third-year sophomore Ethan Flatt.

Flatt led Ole Miss to its only points of the night in an early fourth-quarter drive as an announced paid attendance of 83,083 watched. But the Rebels lost the contest 28-7 to fall to 0-2 on the season and 0-1 in Southeastern Conference play.

That was the storyline of an otherwise lackluster offensive performance, especially in the first half, as Ole Miss was unable to capitalize on good field position because of several Bama miscues. The Rebels had only 91 yards on 31 plays at halftime. Spurlock was a mere 5-of-13 passing in the first half for 54 yards. He wasn't credited with a rush in the opening half. Spurlock finished the game 5-of-15 for 54 yards with a long of 23 yards.

Flatt was 5-of-12 for 63 yards and one touchdown pass - a 6-yard pass across the middle as tight end Eric Rice hauled it in to put the Rebels on the scoreboard. It was 21-7 Bama at that point, and 13:05 remained in the game.

"We blew some opportunities early in this game," said UM Coach David Cutcliffe. "We tried to get some momentum going. We had field position and maybe an opportunity to go up in the ballgame, but we didn't take advantage of it and from there it just got worse."

Cutcliffe said the coaches would evaluate the quarterback situation next week in practice and in watching tape.

"We just weren't getting it done much," he said. "Micheal just didn't get it done and we had talked about going in if we were inconsistent again. We wanted to let Micheal see it from the sidelines. Ethan came in and did a good job, so we decided to stay with him. It doesn't mean anything at this time (for next week)."

So the Rebels still had a shot if Flatt and the offense could continue to create something. However it would be Alabama who would put up the next points, and in a hurry. Croyle led the Tide downfield in five plays with tailback Ray Hudson racing 46 yards nearly untouched down the near sideline for a score. Bostick was true on the PAT, and it was 28-7 Alabama with 10:34 to go.

The Rebels couldn't move it the last time they got their hands on the football. Alabama was able to run out the clock the last 8:57 of the contest. To open the game, Alabama won the coin toss but deferred. The Rebels started at their own 20 but had to punt in four plays.

Cody Ridgeway boomed a 54-yarder and the Tide started at its own 20-yard line. Six plays later the Rebels got a break.

Alabama running back Ray Hudson fumbled after a short gain and the football was recovered by Rebel safety Charles Clark at the Crimson Tide 44. Six plays later the drive stalled at the Alabama 19. Jonathan Nichols missed his first field goal of the young season - just wide left - after going 2-for-2 last week, this attempt from 38 yards out.

The teams then exchanged punts, and Ole Miss got its second break on Ridegway's punt. Bama's returner mishandled the football, it rolled in front of him and was recovered by Rebel snapper Sidney McLaurin at the Alabama 35.

"It was the biggest play I've ever made," McLaurin said.

A first down running play by Vashon Pearson gained 7 yards to the 28. A second down rush by Pearson also gained 7 but the play was negated by a holding call back to the 38. Two downs later, and the Rebs were fourth and eight at the Bama 33. Nichols lined up for a 54-yarder but the snap went straight to him for a quick-kick punt to the 3-yard line.

Neither team was able to do anything offensively the rest of the first period, but the second quarter would find Alabama taking control. After a Ridgeway punt of 39 yards to the Crimson Tide 2-yard line, Alabama methodically moved the distance for the game's first touchdown. The official's flag also aided the Tide's cause as the Rebels were penalized for two personal fouls - roughing the passer and a 15-yard face mask - and pass interference that gave the Tide three automatic first downs. Alabama got on the board first when Tim Castille rushed into the endzone from a yard out. The extra point was good by Brian Bostick, and the Tide led 7-0 with 9:15 to go in the second quarter.

Alabama's defense helped set up points for the Crimson Tide soon thereafter. On third and 6 from his own 24, Rebel quarterback Micheal Spurlock dropped back under heavy rush, was sacked at the 9-yard line and fumbled the football. Alabama recovered at the 8 and was poised to score more points.

After a holding penalty on first down moved Bama back to a first and goal at the 15, Tide quarterback Brodie Croyle hit Tyrone Prothro in the corner of the end zone for the Tide's second touchdown. Bostick added the PAT to give Alabama a 14-0 with 7:50 left before halftime. That's the way the first half ended.

Alabama ended the contrest with 390 total yards - 221 rushing and 169 passing. The Rebels had 192 yards of offense - 75 yards rushing and 117 yards passing. Bama had 22 first downs to the Rebels' nine.

For complete game stats, go to, and click on football.

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