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The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Alabama football defense helps power through rough first half to win against Ole Miss

In quarterback Jalen Milroe’s first Alabama start as QB1, he was sacked four times in the first half but contributed to two touchdowns in the second.
Riley Thompson
Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe (#4) attempts to break a tackle from an Ole Miss defender on Sept. 23 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Once again, the Crimson Tide defense shone in the No. 13 Alabama football game against No. 15 Ole Miss. After struggling in the first half, the offense eventually came together as well, leading to the 24-10 Crimson Tide win against the Rebels for both teams’ SEC opener.  

“Everybody was on the same page, it was really no mistakes, and we came ready to play,” linebacker Dallas Turner said about his defense.  

Despite the strong performance from the Alabama defense, the Rebels came out strong in the first quarter. Trailing 3-0 at first due to an Alabama field goal, quarterback Jaxson Dart still had no trouble finding his receivers. On the Rebels’ second drive of the game, Dart worked his way down the field and then rushed for a 10-yard touchdown that gave Ole Miss the 7-3 lead that it carried into the second quarter. 

Six minutes in, Milroe threw an interception into double coverage in the end zone, but the Alabama defense quickly put an end to the Ole Miss drive, ending with linebacker Chris Braswell sacking quarterback Jaxson Dart. A blocked punt from junior Ja’Corey Brooks gave Alabama the ball at the 1-yard line. From there, it should’ve been an easy touchdown. 

Instead, Milroe misses a bad snap, losing 13 yards. Eight more yards are lost on the drive, leading to fourth and 22 and causing the Crimson Tide to settle for a field goal when a touchdown should have been a shoo-in. 

The 7-6 Ole Miss lead at the end of the first half reflected the Crimson Tide defense managing an impressive Ole Miss offense, but the Alabama offense failing to put together any promising plays. 

The second half, though, was a different story. The Alabama offense immediately showed a new sense of purpose, opening the third quarter with a 54-yard pass to wide receiver Jermaine Burton. Although the drive ended with a field goal instead of a touchdown — it was Alabama’s fifth touchdown negated by a holding penalty this season —  the Crimson Tide took the lead back at 9-7. 

Two minutes later, the Ole Miss drive ended with an interception from cornerback Terrion Arnold.  

Set up once again with an explosive play on the defense, the Alabama offense was finally able to reciprocate. A 33-yard pass to Jalen Hale resulted in Alabama’s first touchdown. Milroe got knocked down on the play, but he popped up and immediately started celebrating with the rest of the Crimson Tide.  

“The defense played their butts off. They played hard for us all four quarters, and we pick up on their energy,” Milroe said.   

Backup quarterback Ty Simpson came in to attempt the 2-point conversion, and despite a face mask, rushed for the 2 points and gave Alabama a 17-7 lead. 

Saban said it was a key set of drives that changed the energy of the game.  

“I think the momentum of the game … really shifted for us,” Saban said. “The energy went up and I think that was demonstrated by how we continued to play the rest of the game so I’m always happy to see guys make those kind of plays.” 

The Crimson Tide carried this newfound sense of purpose into the defense, which forced the Rebels to settle for a field goal, and then another touchdown, this time to Jase McClellan. McClellan finished the game with 105 rushing yards on 17 attempts. 

“When you have a great running back like Jase, it makes the quarterback job a lot easier,” Milroe said. “One thing about Jase is he has great leadership. He has great leadership throughout the week and he’s been more of a vocal leader for us and he’s hungry to grow and to lead.” 

As for the Rebels’ offense, they put together a productive game as well. Running back Quinshon Judkins had 56 rushing yards and wide receiver Dayton Wade had 88 receiving yards, a second-highest total of the season for both players. But the Alabama defense was still able to hold the Rebels to just one touchdown and a field goal. 

“Holding a team like that to only 10 points is very, very good,” Turner said. “They’ve been averaging 50-something points per game, so holding them to just 10 is very good.” 

Both teams move to 3-1 on the season; Alabama’s next game will be against Mississippi State in Starkville on Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on ESPN. 

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