Saturday, October 15, 2005
Box Score | UA Notes | Postgame Quotes
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - Jamie Christensen's 31-yard field goal as time expired lifted No. 6 Alabama to a 13-10 victory over Mississippi on Saturday.
Brodie Croyle finished with 234 yards passing and converted three third downs on the game-winning drive for the Crimson Tide (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference), who looked out of sync against an inspired Ole Miss team looking for its first big win under new coach Ed Orgeron.
But the Tide shook off its sluggishness and made the plays when they counted to remain unbeaten heading into next week's showdown with rival Tennessee.
Alabama began its decisive drive at its own 24-yard line with 2:39 to play.
Croyle, held in check for much of the second half by an aggressive Rebels defense, took command. He was 3-of-4 for 24 yards on the drive with three key conversions - a 20-yard run on third-and-9, a 7-yard pass to Matt Miller on third-and-2 and a 2-yard sneak on third-and-1 in the final minute.
That set up Kenneth Darby's 16-yard run to the Ole Miss 14. Alabama called time out with 3 seconds left. Christensen converted his game-winner from the right hash, then was mobbed by his relieved teammates.
Darby, the SEC's leading rusher, had 70 of his 100 yards in the second half.
He appeared to give Alabama a spark early in the second half when he burst 48 yards untouched to give the Crimson Tide a 10-7 lead.
Neither team's offense could generate much of a threat the rest of the way until Alabama's game-winning drive in the closing minutes.
Keith Brown stepped forward as the top replacement for the injured Tyrone Prothro, catching six passes for 79 yards.
The Crimson Tide seemed ripe for an upset after an exhilarating rout of Florida two weeks ago and with the Volunteers coming to Tuscaloosa next week.
Ole Miss used a fired-up defense and just enough offense to put together its best game under its new coach.
"The (Rebels') defense did a good job with their blitzes, and they're fast up front," Shula said. "They deserve a lot of credit."
Against the SEC's second-best pass defense, Micheal Spurlock was 19-of-32 for 210 yards, his third consecutive 200-yard passing game, with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Mario Hill.
"We were right there close, but close isn't good enough," Spurlock said.
The Rebels held Darby to just 30 yards in the first half and led 7-3 at halftime. That margin could have been bigger - Ole Miss missed one field goal and had another blocked.
The Rebels' touchdown came after forcing a turnover from the SEC's stingiest team which entered with just five turnovers.
Linebacker Garry Pack recovered DJ Hall's first-quarter fumble at the Tide 26, and three plays later, Spurlock hit Hill for the TD.
The Tide cut it to four early in the second on Christensen's 43-yard field goal.