TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WCBI Sports/Alabama Athletics) – A sturdy Alabama defense turned away several Ole Miss scoring threats while the Crimson Tide offense showed a resourceful side as top-ranked Alabama (4-0 overall; 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference) earned a 25-0 victory over No. 21 Ole Miss (3-1; 1-1 SEC) Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 101,821 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The Rebels are shut out for the first time since 1998 and were held to just 205 total yards by the Alabama defense.
Tide quarterback AJ McCarron completed 25 of 32 passes for 190 yards with one interception, connecting with wide receiver Christion Jones 5 times for 61 yards. Running back T.J. Yeldon rushed for 121 yards and a career-long 68-yard touchdown, eclipsing the 100-yard mark for the seventh time in his Alabama career while reserve back Kenyan Drake had 99 yards on 12 carries including a 50-yard scoring run. Linebacker C.J. Mosley led the Alabama defense, recording a safety in the fourth quarter as one of his 10 tackles. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had a team-leading 14 tackles for the Tide.
After a touchback on the opening kickoff, Ole Miss took the game’s first possession at its own 25-yard line and marched 47 yards in five plays before being stopped at the Tide 35. A slant pass from quarterback Bo Wallace was tipped but caught by receiver Laquon Treadwell behind the defense and Treadwell raced to the Tide 37 for a 38-yard gain. Wallace ran for two yards on first down, before running back Jeff Scott gained six over left end and was stopped for no gain on third down to set up a fourth-and-two play at the Tide 29. Treadwell took a handoff on a reverse but was flipped and stopped by Tide safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix a yard short of the first down giving the Tide the ball at the Alabama 28.
After a false start to begin the possession, the Alabama offense cranked up a 61-yard, 11-play drive that consumed 6:19 of the clock. McCarron gained two yards on a scramble on first down before hitting receiver Kenny Bell for six yards to the Tide 31 to set up a third-and-seven situation. McCarron connected on a pass to receiver Christion Jones for 16 yards in the middle of the field for a first down at the Tide 47. Running back T.J. Yeldon rushed for three yards, then took a handoff over right tackle for 23 more to the Ole Miss 27. A screen pass to Christion Jones yielded seven yards to the Rebel 20 before Yeldon gained four more on a run over left guard to the 16. Yeldon was stopped for a loss of four on the next play and caught a pass for no gain on second down. Facing third-and-11 at the Ole Miss 17, McCarron hit Bell for six yards to the Ole Miss 11 to set up a 28-yard field goal attempt by Cade Foster. Foster’s kick was true to give the Tide a 3-0 lead with 6:23 left in the first quarter.
The Tide extended the lead to 6-0 midway through the second quarter, driving 43 yards in nine plays on a march that consumed 5:44 of game time. The march began at the Tide 21 and was jump-started by a roughing the passer penalty on the first play of the possession as McCarron was hit by Ole Miss’s C.J. Johnson after releasing a pass. That moved the ball to the Tide 31. From there, McCarron passed to Christion Jones for 10 yards, Kenyan Drake was stopped for a three-yard loss, McCarron hit tight end Brian Vogler for six yards before Vogler fumbled and Cyrus Kouandjio recovered for the Tide at the Ole Miss 45. On third-and-six, McCarron connected with receiver Kevin Norwood for nine yards and a first down at the Ole Miss 36 as Norwood caught the ball in very tight coverage. Three plays gained only two yards to set up Foster’s career-long 53-yard field goal that came with 5:44 left in the second quarter.
Alabama closed the first half with a methodical 56-yard, 13-play drive to a field goal to earn a 9-0 lead at halftime. The drive was keyed by McCarron passes of 11 yards to Cooper, seven yards to Norwood, seven yards to Bell, 13 yards to Yeldon and four yards to Bell, accounting for 42 of the 56 yards on the march. McCarron ended the first half having completed 20 of 23 attempts for 135 yards. Foster’s 42-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter made a new single-game high for him with his third made kick of the game.
After a touchback on the kickoff to open the second half, Alabama started the possession at its 25-yard line. After an offside penalty on Ole Miss moved the ball to the Tide 30 for a first-and-five play, McCarron pass to White on a hitch pass for two yards. On second-and-eight from the 32, Yeldon took a delayed handoff on a draw play and raced up the middle of the Ole Miss defense then cut to the outside and scored on a 68-yard gain. Foster’s conversion kick was good to give the Tide a 16-0 lead with 14:08 left in the third quarter. The touchdown was the longest of Yeldon’s Alabama career and gave him exactly 100 yards rushing on 11 carries to that point in the game.
Ole Miss responded with its first sustained drive since the early moments of the game, marching 73 yards in 10 plays to the Alabama seven-yard line. Two passes by Bo Wallace totaling 23 yards, plus a 12-yard keeper by Wallace and a 15-yard personal foul penalty by Alabama, were crucial in the drive. But the Tide defense stiffened when Ole Miss reached first down at the Tide 15. After a seven-yard run by I’Tavius Mathers on first down, Mathers gained one on second down and an incomplete pass set up a fourth down for Ole Miss needing two yards at the Tide seven-yard line. A pass by Wallace on a crossing pattern was knocked down by Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley to end the drive with 3:30 left in the third quarter, preserving the 16-0 Alabama lead.
Alabama went to the running game at that point. Yeldon carried on the first five plays of the possession, gaining 19 yards overall, then Kenyan Drake rushed for 11 to the Tide 38 as the third quarter ended. On the first play of the fourth period, a McCarron pass bounded off intended receiver Brian Vogler and into the hand of Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt at the Tide 47. Prewitt returned the intercepted pass 16 yards to the Alabama 31-yard line.
After an eight-yard pass from Wallace to Treadwell on first down reached the Tide 23, two passes were broken up by the Tide defense. That set up another fourth-and-two play for the Ole Miss offense with 14:15 left in the fourth quarter. This time Ole Miss converted as running back Jeff Scott took a handoff at left guard and gained five yards for a first down at the Tide 18. Scott then carried for three yards on first down, a Wallace pass was batted down at the line on second down, and the third-and-seven play resulted in a two-yard gain on a scramble by Wallace to set up fourth-and-5 at the Tide 13. A false start penalty on Ole Miss actually negated an incomplete pass, giving the Rebels another shot on a fourth-and 10 from the Tide 18 with 12:40 left. Tide cornerback Deion Belue broke up Wallace’s corner route to intended for receiver Evan Engram who was at the goal line corner at the Tide six.
Later in the fourth quarter, a Cody Mandell punt pinned Ole Miss at its 1-yard line with 5:55 left. On first down, Wallace tried a rush at left guard but was tackled by Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley in the end zone for a safety with 5:43 left to give Alabama a 18-0 lead. The ensuing free kick sailed out of bounds to give Alabama the ball at the 50-yard line. On the first play, Drake took a handoff up the middle and broke free on a 50-yard touchdown run. Foster’s kick gave Alabama a 25-0 lead with 5:32 left.
After the ensuing kickoff, Wallace was sacked by Denzel Devall as he attempted a pass and Ed Stinson recovered at the Ole Miss 17 with 5:15 remaining. The reserve offense entered the game for Alabama at that point. Running back Jalston Fowler gained five yards on first down to the Ole Miss 12. Quarterback Blake Sims lost a yard on second down before a false start penalty created a third-and-11 situation. Sims kept for 6 yards to the Ole Miss 12 before running back Altee Tenpenny was stopped for four yards on fourth-and-5, giving the Rebels the ball back with 2:48 left.