Oct. 17, 2010
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The eighth-ranked Alabama football team used a tough defensive effort and some big plays to produce a convincing 23-10 win over the Mississippi Rebels in front of a Homecoming crowd of 101,821 at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday night.
Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy was 17-of-25 for 219 yards and threw for two touchdowns, while running back Trent Richardson totaled 146 yards (101 receiving, 45 rushing) on the night, including an 85-yard touchdown reception. Running back Mark Ingram added 60 yards on 15 carries for the Crimson Tide (6-1 overall, 3-1 in the SEC).
"The goal of this game was for us to get back to playing with the kind of effort, the kind of toughness, and the discipline, execution and intensity that you need to play with to play winning football," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "We probably hit on the toughness part; I was pleased with that. I thought we tackled better on defense and played on the line of scrimmage better. We did a better job all the way around. I thought we gave a much better effort in this game. Guys really played hard, and I'm really proud of that."
After forcing a Mississippi three-and-out on the first possession of the game, Alabama marched 46 yards on 11 plays, capped off by a seven-yard touchdown pass from McElroy to tight end Preston Dial. Initially, the Crimson Tide had to settle for a 37-yard Jeremy Shelley field goal, but a roughing the kicker penalty on the Rebels gave Alabama a first and goal and the Crimson Tide capitalized with a touchdown. It was McElroy's 10th touchdown pass of the year and Dial's third touchdown reception.
Three possessions later, UA placekicker Cade Foster connected with a career-long 49-yard field goal to put the Crimson Tide up 10-0 at the close of the first quarter. Richardson accounted for 23 of the 26 yards on the drive.
Alabama would strike again on its second possession of the second quarter with a 19-yard Shelley field goal to go up 13-0 following a 37-yard punt return by Marquis Maze, who would finish the game with 125 punt return yards.
Mississippi got on the board with a 22-yard Bryson Rose field goal, to cut the score to 13-3 with 1:28 left in the first half. However, Alabama responded with a drive of its own, culminating in Foster's second field goal of the night - a 44-yard effort - as the half ended to put the Tide up 16-3. Alabama held the Rebels to 41 total yards and two first downs in the first half.
"They're very difficult to defend, in terms of the kind of offense they run," Saban said. "I think their quarterback does a fabulous job with the option. It was really challenging to our players, but I was really pleased with the way we played it."
Following a Mississippi punt to start the second half, McElroy connected with Richardson on a screen pass that the running back turned into an 85-yard score on a 3rd-and-15 play to put Alabama up, 23-3. On the play, Richardson caught McElroy's screen pass at the 15-yard line, broke an arm tackle attempt by the Rebels' Charles Sawyer and accelerated down the left sideline untouched all the way to the end zone for the score.
Mississippi added a score near the end of the third quarter on a 15-yard pass from Jeremiah Masoli to Melvin Harris to make the score 23-10. It was the first touchdown allowed at home all year by the Alabama defense.
The Rebels would not threaten again on their final two possessions. An interception by UA safety Mark Barron at the Mississippi 37-yard line with 4:49 all but shut the door on the Rebels. The Tide was able to run out the clock from there for the victory.
"I thought the energy level was good when we came back in the second half," Richardson said. "We came out and executed plays, and we got to the ball. We did what we had to do to get the win."
Barron and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick led Alabama with seven tackles apiece. As a whole the Alabama defense totaled six tackles for a loss, two sacks and ten quarterback hurries in holding the Rebels to 243 yards and 10 points.
The Crimson Tide travels to Knoxville, Tenn., next Saturday to take on the Tennessee Volunteers.