Alabama runs away from Ole Miss with second-half surge
Published 7:48 pm Saturday, September 23, 2023
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Jalen Milroe and Alabama’s offense busted out of the doldrums in the second half, and the 13th-ranked Crimson Tide’s defense was strong throughout in a 24-10 victory over No. 15 Ole Miss on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide (3-1) scored 18 points in a 14-minute span — one more than the team managed against South Florida last weekend — to pull away from the Rebels (3-1) in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
“We told the players that we believe in our team and it was important for them to believe in each other,” Tide coach Nick Saban said. “But there’s a responsibility that comes with that belief.”
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That means playing physical and cutting down on the costly “my bads” among other things, he said.
“I thought the team did a fantastic job of that in the second half,” Saban said. “The guys competed. Played really physical. Dominated the line of scrimmage.”
The result was Alabama’s eighth straight win over Ole Miss, but not the kind of performance that assuaged concerns about the shaky offensive play. The Tide’s eight-year streak in the Top 10 ended this week.
Milroe reclaimed the starting job after watching two backups split time last weekend. He responded with enough positive plays to overcome an interception in the end zone.
The biggest was a 33-yard touchdown pass to freshman Jalen Hale when Milroe delivered a strike in the back of the end zone despite getting hit as he threw. Milroe briefly appeared hurt before dancing off the field in celebration to cheers from the stands, then backup Ty Simpson dove over the line for a two-point conversion and a 17-7 lead.
Hale had only one catch for 5 yards in the first three games but had two for 63 yards in this one.
Jase McClellan’s tackle-breaking, 8-yard TD made it 24-10 with 12:10 left.
Jaxson Dart and the Rebels weren’t quite done. Dart led them downfield despite heavy pressure by completing two fourth-and-long passes. He couldn’t deliver a third in a drive that consumed eight minutes but ended with an incompletion.
Milroe completed 17 of 21 passes for 225 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also had runs of 20 and 18 yards on the opening drive before the Rebels wiped out most of those gains with four sacks.
Dart was 20-of-35 passing for 244 yards with an interception on a deep ball near the goal line. Dayton Wade had five catches for 88 yards.
McCellan ran 14 times for 94 yards to outgain Ole Miss star Quinshon Judkins (13 carries for 56 yards.)
Dallas Turner had two of Alabama’s five sacks.