Ole Miss has rarely traveled to Tuscaloosa, Ala., and been competitive with Alabama in football. Saturday that wasn't the case.
The Rebels battled to the end in this one as the Crimson Tide came away with a hard-fought 26-23 overtime victory.
"I'm proud of the players and coaches," said Ole Miss second-year head coach Ed Orgeron, who now has two, heart-breaking, three-point losses to Alabama in two seasons at Ole Miss (last year UM lost 13-10 in Oxford). "We'll go back to work and continue to improve."
Alabama scored first to take a 7-0 lead with 11:18 to go in the opening period on a touchdown pass from quarterback John Parker Wilson to DJ Hall and an extra point kick by Jamie Christensen. Parker dumped it across the middle about 3 yards and Hall raced the remainder of the 44 yards with the football to the end zone.
Ole Miss tied things with 6:53 left in the first quarter. BenJarvus Green-Ellis took it in from the 2-yard line capping an 80-yard, nine-play drive. Joshua Shene converted to make it 7-7.
In the second period Alabama went up 10-7 on a Christensen field goal with 13:33 left. Even after a clip on Alabama was called but the flag was picked up by the refs, which resulted in a first down Alabama deep in Rebel territory, the Ole Miss defense gallantly staved off the Tide and forced the field goal.
On the ensuing possession, the Rebs tied it 10-10 on a Shene field goal with 7:39 to go in the second. After quarterback Brent Schaeffer misfired on a third and 9 play, the freshman PK from Oklahoma nailed it for a tie game.
Shene gave the Rebels a 13-10 lead at halftime on a field goal from 23 yards as time expired. Alabama had gone for it on fourth and 2 deep in Rebel territory, but Wilson overthrew a wide open receiver and UM took over at its own 26.
The Rebels then marched downfield to the Bama 5 and called on Shene following a timeout with four seconds to go before the break.
Alabama tied it 13-13 on a Christensen field goal of 26 yards with 4:25 to go in the third period. The Rebel defense stood tall again and Bama couldn't produce a touchdown on the drive.
In the fourth period Alabama went up 20-13 on a 2-yard run by Tim Castille, capping a long drive that started in the third and spilled over into the fourth. Chrsitensen was good and the Rebs trailed by seven points with 10:32 to go in the contest.
On the Rebels' next possession, Orgeron called a fake punt on fourth and 4 at the Ole Miss 40-yard line as punter Rob Park completed a pass in the right flat to Bruce Hall, who ran out of bounds at the stick. With a first down at the 45 and new life, the Rebels scored on the very next play, a 55-yard Schaeffer to Mike Wallace pass down the sideline, one of the few deep throws of the day for the Rebels. Wallace walked into the end zone after the catch at the 5-yard line and Shene was good on the PAT with 8:12 to go. We were right back where we started - tied up but now at 20 all in this one.
Late in the game with Bama threatening, Patrick Willis stopped Kenneth Darby dead in his tracks on fourth and 2 at the UM 26, and Ole Miss took over, thwarting yet another Alabama scoring effort. Nothing was produced points-wise on the drive, and an exchange of punts and possessions then ran out the clock.
In overtime Ole Miss got nine yards on first down from the 25 by Mico McSwain. But an illegal procedure call made it second and 6 instead of second and 1. Two plays later Shene kicked a field goal of 37 yards as the Rebs failed to score a tochdown. The lead was 23-20 UM.
But Alabama did score a touchdown on its OT possession. Wilson hit Le'Ron McClain on a pass across the middle of the end zone as the Tide had it third and goal at the 2-yard line. It took Alabama nine plays overall to score in overtime as the Rebel defense was magnificent.
Ole Miss had 287 yards of offense (119 rushing, 168 passing) to Alabama's 434 yards (228 rushing, 206 passing).
Alabama led in first downs 21 to 17.
Darby, who carried the ball 25 times for 162 yards, led Bama in rushing.
Wilson was 16-of-28 for 206 yards and two touchdowns. Hall recorded his fourth-straight 100-yard receiving game and seventh of his career, pulling in five catches for 119 yards and a touchdown.
Schaeffer was 13-20 for 163 yards and one touchdown.
Wallace caught three passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. Marshay Green three passes for 27 yards, and Robert Hough three for 13.
Green-Ellis had 56 yards on 21 carries.
Time of possession was basically dead even, while Alabama ran 70 plays to 56 for the Rebs.
On third down conversions, Ole Miss was only 2 of 11 while the Tide was 9 of 16.
Ole Miss (2-5 overall, 1-3 SEC) plays at Arkansas next week while Alabama (5-1, 2-2) plays at Tennessee.
Rebs fall to Tide in OT
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