By Scott Latta, UA Media Relations
TUSCALOOSA, Ala.-- The Alabama defense didn't allow a point in the second half of Saturday's game to Mississippi State, but the Crimson Tide (6-4, 2-4) couldn't overcome a 24-10 halftime deficit, falling to the Bulldogs (3-7, 1-5) 24-16 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Alabama turned the ball over twice on the day, leading to seven Mississippi State points.
"We are a better football team than what we saw out there today," said Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula. "We thought we'd be further along by now. It's my job to get this team where they need to be. You are not going to make good plays all the time. We have to take advantage of opportunities. It takes a team effort every week to win a football game."
With 11:30 remaining in the first half and the Bulldogs up 10-3, Tide senior Jeffrey Dukes stepped in front of a Michael Henig pass for his third interception of the year and returned it 24 yards for the score. The score, the first of Dukes' career, was the Tide's only touchdown of the day.
Mississippi State answered with a seven-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Henig to Jawayel Smith to give the Bulldogs the 17-10 lead with 8:04 left in the first half.
Culberson's interception return came with less than three minutes remaining in the half, and after the Tide offense stalled at the Bulldog 1-yard line as time expired, Alabama trailed by two scores at the break.
"Mississippi State did a good job up front on both sides of the ball," Shula said. "We've got to keep working on getting the ball out quicker, protection and receivers getting open quicker."
The Alabama defense stifled the Mississippi State offense in the third quarter, holding the Bulldogs to minus-22 yards in the quarter and allowing only 56 total yards in the second half.
After the Bulldogs took over possession at the Alabama 35 after an interception three minutes into the second half, Tide junior Wallace Gilberry forced a Henig fumble, which was recovered by freshman Zach Schreiber. Nine plays later, Christensen booted a 26-yard field goal to pull the Tide to within 24-13.
Alabama added another Christensen field goal, a 31-yarder, with 1:47 left in the third to make the score 24-16.
Wilson was 19-of-39 for 187 yards with two interceptions on the day. Junior DJ Hall eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark for the ninth time in his career and sixth time this season by reeling in 10 catches for 125 yards.
"We run a lot of plays that set me up to get open," Hall said. "I'm trying to go out and be as big a part of the offense as I can. I try to make as many plays as I can. When we aren't doing something right, moving the ball like we are supposed to or passing the ball, it's upsetting."
The Tide was led on the ground by senior Ken Darby, who carried the ball 13 times for 54 yards.
Alabama travels to Baton Rouge next Saturday to face the LSU Tigers.