Tuscaloosa, Ala. - Alabama receiver Amari Cooper caught a game-high eight passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns and placekicker Jeremy Shelley kicked four field goals as the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0 overall; 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference) put together a methodical performance in a 33-14 defeat of Mississippi (3-2 overall; 0-1 SEC) on Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 101,821 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Cooper scored on passes of 16 and 12 yards from quarterback AJ McCarron, who set a new Alabama mark for consecutive pass attempts without an interception, breaking the mark of 190 previously set by Brodie Croyle in 2005. McCarron ended the game with an active streak of 206 pass attempts without an interception while completing 22 of 30 for 180 yards and two scores without an interception.
Running back Eddie Lacy led all rushers with 82 yards on 19 carries and Christion Jones returned a second quarter kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown for the Crimson Tide. Linebacker C.J. Mosley led the Alabama defense with 10 tackles while cornerback Dee Milliner intercepted a pass, broke up four passes and assisted on a quarterback sack.
After both teams punted on their first possession of the game, Alabama’s offense cranked up the running game on the Crimson Tide’s second possession. Running back Eddie Lacy carried four times for 25 yards as the Tide covered 38 yards in eight plays to the Ole Miss 23-yard line. From there, Jason Shelley kicked a 38-yard field goal to give Alabama a 3-0 lead with 7:17 remaining in the first quarter.
Alabama forced an Ole Miss punt on the ensuing possession, but that punt only carried 19 yards and set up the Crimson Tide at the Rebels’ 44-yard line. From there, quarterback AJ McCarron connected with Kevin Norwood on a crossing pattern for a 17-yard pass completion to the Rebels’ 27. The Ole Miss defense stiffened there, stopping the Tide at the 21-yard line and Shelley kicked another 38-yard field goal to give Alabama a 6-0 lead with 3:03 left in the opening stanza.
Ole Miss responded with a 75-yard drive to a touchdown to take the lead, the first time Alabama has faced a deficit in regulation since the Tennessee game last season (October 22, 2011). A pass interference call on a third down play jump started the drive that started at the Ole Miss 25. The march was highlighted by a 31-yard pass play from quarterback Bo Wallace to wide receiver Donte Moncrief that moved the Rebels to the Alabama 25.
Wallace then hit Philander Moore on a six-yard completion and Vince Sanders for seven yards to the Alabama 12. Wallace then kept on a six–yard run to the Tide six-yard line and running back Jeff Scott carried up the middle for three more to the Alabama three-yard line. On third-and-one, Scott gained two yards for a first-and-goal at the Alabama one-yard line. On first down, Scott carried over left guard but was stopped for no gain by Jeoffrey Pagan and Damion Square. On second down, Wallace kept over left end but was stopped for no gain by Xzavier Dickson and Trey DePriest. On third down, Scott took a handoff around right end for a touchdown with 13:40 left in the second quarter.
The Ole Miss lead lasted all of 15 seconds as Alabama’s Christion Jones took the ensuing kickoff at the Alabama 1 and returned it untouched 99 yards behind excellent blocking for a touchdown to regain the lead for Alabama at 13-7 with 13:25 left in the second quarter. The return, which tied for the eighth-longest kickoff return in Alabama history, was the first for a touchdown by Alabama since a 91-yard return by Trent Richardson against Duke in 2010.
On the next Ole Miss possession, Dee Milliner intercepted a Wallace pass on a third-down play to set up the Alabama offense at the Rebels’ 35-yard line with 11:51 remaining. On the next play, running back Dee Hart took a McCarron pass for 12 yards to the Ole Miss 23. Hart rushed for seven yards over right end on the next play. After an incomplete pass, McCarron connected with Amari Cooper on a fade pattern to the left front corner of the end zone. Cooper hauled in the pass just before going out of bounds for a 16-yard touchdown to extend Alabama’s lead to 20-7 with 10:30 left in the first half.
After the ensuing Ole Miss possession ended in an interception by Robert Lester that Lester returned to the Rebel 39-yard line before fumbling the ball back to the Rebels, quarterback Randall Mackey threw an interception to Alabama’s Deion Belue at the UA 32. From there, the Alabama offense marched 68 yards in 13 plays on a scoring march that consumed 6:56 of game time. Cooper caught four passes for 37 yards on the drive, including a 12-yard touchdown that Cooper leaped and pulled away from a defender. That play extended the Alabama lead to 27-7 with 1:37 left in the first half.
During the drive, McCarron eclipsed the Alabama record of 190 consecutive pass attempts without an interception that was set by Brodie Croyle in 2005.
Early in the third period, Ole Miss put together an impressive touchdown drive covering 70 yards in 16 plays. That drive, keyed by a 16-yard pass from Wallace to wide receiver Ja-Mes Logan, included two fourth-down conversions and a crucial 12-yard pass from Wallace to Mackey on a third-and-seven play to the Alabama 12-yard line. That play set up a 12-yard touchdown by Mackey two plays later to narrow the Alabama lead to 27-14 with 6:35 left in the third quarter.
Alabama responded with a scoring drive of its own on the next possession, moving 51 yards in 13 plays to a field goal. McCarron converted three third down plays through the air, the first one a third-and-six play on a 16-yard pass to Christion Jones to the Ole Miss 39 to keep the march going. Another completion on a third-and-six for seven yards to Kenny Bell moved the ball to the Rebels’ 28. The Tide converted yet another third down on the march when McCarron hit Kenny Bell for eight yards to the Ole Miss 14. The drive salled at the Ole Miss eight-yard line and Shelley came in to convert his third field goal of the game, this one from 26 yards with 12:19 left in the fourth quarter for a 30-14 Alabama lead.
Alabama capped the scoring late in the game with a 24-yard field goal by Shelley, his fourth of the night. That concluded a 12-play, 69-yard march that consumed a whopping 7:07 of game time to make the final margin 33-14 for the Crimson Tide.
Courtesy UA Media Relations