Ole Miss continued its winless streak versus Alabama in the Lane Kiffin era on Saturday, falling to the Crimson Tide 24-10 in Tuscaloosa.
Kiffin, in his pursuit to oust former boss Nick Saban, had some fortune early in the game. However, the No. 15 Rebels’ luck ran out in the second half with two consequential touchdowns from No. 13 Alabama making the difference in the highly-anticipated match.
The first half of play was a rollercoaster with both teams making mistakes and defenses stepping up to make for little offensive output.
Alabama struck first blood with a 48-yard field goal by Will Reichard. Ole Miss responded with a Jaxson Dart carry for a touchdown to take a 7-3 lead.
Then the miscues piled on.
An early second-quarter Alabama drive deep into Ole Miss territory resulted in an interception thrown by Jalen Milroe, who struggled in the first half. The Rebels failed to capitalize on the subsequent drive, sending the punting unit on the field — and the punt was blocked.
Pete Golding’s defense held strong, forcing the Crimson Tide to settle for a field goal. Ole Miss, with momentum, found themselves on Alabama’s side of the field with under one minute remaining in the second quarter but kicker Caden Davis failed to split the uprights on a 34-yard attempt.
Ole Miss held a 7-6 lead at halftime, an advantage that was short-lived.
The second half was all Alabama and Milroe’s early struggles were quickly eradicated. After reclaiming the lead with a field goal, then promptly intercepting a pass by Dart, the Crimson Tide had all the momentum and Milroe delivered.
The Crimson Tide signal-caller moved the ball effectively following the Ole Miss turnover and threw a perfect pass to Jalen Hale for a touchdown while being driven to the ground. Backup quarterback Ty Simpson made an appearance for a successful two-point conversion, giving the Tide a 17-7 lead.
Though the Rebels’ offense looked rather feeble in the third quarter, the team found life and worked their way back into the ballgame, adding three points to the board to make it a one-possession game.
Alabama swung back, scoring in just five plays courtesy of a touchdown run by Jase McClellan, to deliver the ultimate blow that Ole Miss was unable to answer.
The noticeable difference in Saturday’s match was the Rebels’ inability to effectively run the football. Ole Miss had just 56 total rushing yards on 29 carries. Despite Kiffin’s insistence that running the football is a huge part of his offensive philosophy, his team was unable to move the ball on the ground against the Crimson Tide’s defensive front — specifically Dallas Turner.
Dart led the team in passing, completing 20 of 35 passes for 244 yards and a pick. Ole Miss was graced with the presence of Tre Harris, Zakhari Franklin, and Caden Priekstorn. However, the trio ended up being mostly nonfactors in the passing game.
Next up for the Rebels (3-1, 0-1 SEC) is a home game against No. 12 LSU on Saturday at 5 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on ESPN and participating SuperTalk Mississippi stations.