AP photo by Bruce Newman|
Mississippi’s Shay Hodge, left, and Alabama’s Lionel Mitchell reach for the ball in the final seconds of the Tide’s 27-24 victory in Oxford, Miss., on Saturday. The pass was ruled incomplete because Hodge had stepped out of bounds.
After final review, Alabama victorious
Tide struggles to down Ole Miss
By Josh Cooper
OXFORD, Miss. — With seven seconds to play, Alabama defensive backs coach Kirby Smart yelled plays from the sideline.
Tide head coach Nick Saban huddled with his defense. And the crowd of 59,791 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium waited anxiously.
Then five minutes after the play happened, the ruling came down from replay official Doyle Jackson, saying that a 42-yard completion on fourth-and-22 from Ole Miss quarterback Seth Adams to wide receiver Shay Hodge was incomplete.
The ruling said that Hodge ran out of bounds and came back in before out-leaping Alabama’s Marcus Carter and out-fighting the Tide’s Lionel Mitchell for the ball, landing 3 yards short of the end zone.
The call ensured three things:
A change of possession.
A first down for Alabama.
And a 27-24 victory for the Crimson Tide.
“I saw the guy run out,” Saban said. “I was watching the guy run down the field. He ran out of bounds.”
After the play, Saban ran to an official to plead his case. He called a timeout and asked for a review, though he said he thought it would be reviewed anyway.
“I said I want a timeout anyway so you can review it good,” Saban said.
According to a postgame statement released by the Southeastern Conference, Hodge ran out of bounds on his own, making him an ineligible receiver. He then came back in bounds and touched the ball first, therefore making the play “illegal touching.”
“I didn’t get a good look at it at all,” Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron said. “I was just looking to see if we caught the ball. We will have to look at it on film. Obviously, we thought he was in bounds. I never thought it would be reversed.”
AP photo by Bruce Newman|
Alabama’s Glen Coffee (38) looses the ball after being hit by Ole Miss’ Ashley Palmer (11) during the Tide’s 27-24 win in Oxford, Miss., on Saturday.
Alabama took the ball on the 45-yard line to run out the last seven seconds, but had to run off the field quickly when time expired — and with their helmets on — as fans in the Ole Miss student section showered the South end zone with plastic and glass cups and bottles. There were even a few high-heeled shoes added in the mix.
Alabama (5-2, 3-1 SEC) already has more league wins than it did last year, and with a home game looming next week against Tennessee, the Tide received a boost of confidence with another tight win. In this one, Alabama rallied from a 24-17 deficit, scoring 10 points in the final eight minutes to gain the victory.
“As long as we win, it doesn’t matter,” Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson said.
Dogged by inconsistency all season, Wilson played what Saban described as his “best game of the season.” Wilson completed 26 of 40 passes for 265 yards with one interception.
“He did a great job in game management in terms of getting us in the right play and getting it away from their blitz,” Saban said. “He really did a good job of executing the game plan.”
While Wilson’s play gave the offense a lift, Alabama’s defense allowed 420 yards to the Rebels, who did not punt until 14:02 of the fourth quarter.
“We just weren’t very physical,” Saban said. “We weren’t very aggressive, didn’t tackle very well early in the game.”
Ole Miss’ reception-that-wasn’t topped a wild final 6:48 of the game.
First, with the score tied 24-24 and Ole Miss having the ball at its 25-yard line, Adams flung a pass to Hodge, which hit off the receiver’s shoulder and went into Tide linebacker Ezekial Knight’s grasp.
The former wide receiver returned the ball to the 5-yard line, but the Crimson Tide couldn’t get the ball into the end zone, settling for a Leigh Tiffin 24-yard field goal.
Alabama stopped the Rebels again on their next possession, forcing them to punt.
Starting on the Ole Miss 44, Alabama drove to the Rebels’ 9, before lining up for a field goal at fourth-and-four. Saban called for a fake, and holder P.J. Fitzgerald was nailed on a keeper before he ever got going, losing 5 yards and setting up the Rebels on their own 14-yard line.
And after losing 6 yards on
its first four plays, Ole Miss stood at fourth-and-16 from its own 8.
Adams then found Michael Hicks for a 21-yard gain to keep the drive alive.
Later on the drive, Ole Miss faced third-and-11 from the Crimson Tide 34, and Alabama defensive end Brandon Deaderick sacked Adams to move him back to the Ole Miss 45. That set up the final pass play from Adams to Hodge.
Afterward, Saban joked
during his news conference about how draining the victory was.
Looking at a chair behind the table he was supposed to sit behind, he smiled and said, “Glad I have a seat today. That game took it out of me.”
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