Ole Miss Comes From Behind In Final Minutes To Stun Alabama
OXFORD, Miss. -- Even Ole Miss has never thrown a party quite this big.
No. 11 Ole Miss scored two touchdowns and made one final defensive stand, all in the last 5:29 of the game, to stun No. 3 Alabama, 23-17, at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Trailing 17-10, quarterback Bo Wallace threw a 34-yard touchdown to Vince Sanders to tie the score, then threw a second two and a half minutes later on a 10-yard toss to Jaylen Walton to take the lead with 2:54 left. The Rebels took over on the Alabama 31 after recovering a Christion Jones fumble on the kickoff following the second-to-last touchdown to set up the final score.
"Dropped balls, turnovers, penalties, those kinds of things you cannot do against a good football team, especially when you’re playing on the road," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "I didn’t think we finished the game like we needed to on defense. We were ahead 14-3 and gave up a play that was basically an error in coverage. That gave Ole Miss the momentum of the game and we never really got it back."
After Alabama blocked the extra point on Ole Miss' last touchdown, the Crimson Tide still had a chance to potentially win in regulation.
Taking over at its own 13-yard line after the Rebels took the late lead, the Crimson Tide marched down to the Ole Miss 32 with under a minute left, but that's as far as it would go. On second-and-13, Blake Sims threw to a streaking O.J. Howard in the end zone, but the pass was intercepted in the back of the end zone by Ole Miss' Senquez Golson with 37 seconds remaining. The Rebels took a knee to run out the rest of the clock.
"I made a mistake and threw the wrong throw," Sims said. "Hopefully I'll learn from it and get better. I saw (Golson). Like I said, I made the wrong decision. O.J. did the best he could do."
Sims, who had been limited in practice the past two weeks with a bruised shoulder suffered against Florida, completed 19-of-31 passes for 228 yards and one interception. He also ran for a 1-yard touchdown on fourth down to put the Crimson Tide up 7-3 in the second quarter.
As a team, Alabama gained 396 yards of total offense to Ole Miss' 323.
"We controlled the ball but couldn't finish drives," Saban said. "That was the point. We squandered a scoring opportunity with a missed field goal at the end of the first half and not finishing drives in the second half."
Alabama led 14-3 at the half, with its second touchdown coming on a 13-yard fumble return by Cyrus Jones in the final minute before the intermission. With the loss, the Crimson Tide is now 77-5 when leading at the half under Saban.
"This was our first game on the road and it affected us," Saban said. "We did not play as well as what we had been playing and we didn't continue to improve."
Considered by many to be the biggest win in school history, Ole Miss fans stormed the field and tore a goalpost down in celebration immediately after the final whistle. The win ends a 10-game losing streak against the Crimson Tide dating back to 2003.
"The key now is how do you respond from a loss?" Saban said. "This is a really good division. People are going to lose."