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Alabama rolls Ole Miss 52-7; Temple and Dorsey out for the season

Austin McAfee/The Daily Mississippian

 

Going into Saturday’s game between Ole Miss and No. 2 Alabama, the headlines centered around the Crimson Tide’s prolific defense and Heisman Trophy candidate junior running back Trent Richardson. Unfortunately for the Rebels, they didn’t disappoint.

The Rebels’ 141 yards of total offense was its worse offensive output since 1998, Tommy Tuberville’s last season in Oxford. Saturday was also the most lopsided defeat since a 49-3 loss to Auburn during the 1981 season. To make matters worse, ahead of games with No. 10 Arkansas and No. 19 Auburn the next two weeks, Ole Miss lost senior cornerback Marcus Temple (right ankle) and senior defensive end Wayne Dorsey (right arm) for the season.

“It’s a critical blow at this time because those guys were not only seniors, they were leaders for us, on and off the field,” defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix said. “Those are things you’ll miss the most. It provides opportunities for others to step up.”

Alabama’s defense held Ole Miss to just 31 rushing yards and 141 total yards, and Richardson ran for a career-high 183 yards and four touchdowns, as the Crimson Tide (7-0, 4-0) dominated the Rebels (2-4, 0-3) by the score of 52-7 in front of a crowd of 61,792, the fourth largest crowd in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium history.

“They are an excellent football team,” Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt said. “That is the bottom line. We came out really ready to play, and I thought we played an excellent first half. I think that we did the best we could do in the first half. That is what they do to everybody. They wear you down.”

Ole Miss started the game as perfect as they could have hoped for. The Rebels jumped out early with a 59-yard pass from junior quarterback Randall Mackey to freshman wide receiver Nickolas Brassell that set up a one-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Jeff Scott.

For the game, Mackey completed 10 of 21 passes for 113 yards, but also threw an interception and was sacked five times. Brassell, one of the few bright spots for the Rebels, finished with four catches for 101 receiving yards to go along with five tackles on the defensive side of the ball.

“It’s all about competing to me,” Brassell said. “I just go out there and whatever coach Nutt asks me to do. I just go out there and do my job. I never want to come off the field. I want to be out there and make plays.”

From the game-opening scoring drive, however, it was all Alabama. After giving up 72 yards on that drive’s five plays, the Crimson Tide held the Rebels’ offense without a yard for the rest of the half. On the other side of the ball, the Alabama offense responded with a nine-play, 79-yard drive that Richardson finished with an eight-yard touchdown run. 

Early in the second quarter, Alabama marched down the field on a 10-play, 62-yard drive and Richardson found the end zone again from seven yards out for their first lead of the game. Then as the second half neared an end, Mackey’s interception set up a 24-yard field goal from junior Jeremy Shelley to give the Crimson Tide a 17-7 halftime lead. 

When the second half started, Alabama continued to dominate on both sides of the ball and scored on all five possessions in the half.

“They brought a lot more pressure than usual (in the second half),” Nutt said. “I felt that they kept our guys really off balance on second and third downs. They had five and six-man pressure. We had to go to shorter throws, and that played into their hands. When you cannot run the ball it makes things difficult. 

“We knew it was going to be an uphill battle. They are very stingy with giving up yards, and they haven’t given up many all year.”

The Crimson Tide started the second-half scoring with a six-play, 73-yard drive capped by an eight-yard touchdown run by Richardson. 

His spectacular day continued on the very next drive as he broke a 76-yard highlight reel touchdown run, breaking tackles and making Ole Miss defenders miss for his fourth and final score of the day. 

The junior finished the game with 183 yards on 17 carries, good for a 10.8 yards-per-carry average, to go along with two receptions for 30 yards.

“He’s a whole different back than last year,” sophomore linebacker Mike Marry said. “He’s a determined runner. He runs hard every play. He runs downhill every play. He’s also shifty, so he can always make you miss. You have to gang tackle. If you arm tackle him, you won’t be successful.

“He tries to make a big play every play. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. We just have to be better tackling.”

On the Rebels’ ensuing possession, their woes continued. Mackey fumbled the ball, and the Crimson Tide took full advantage, converting the turnover into an eight-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Jalston Fowler for a 38-7 lead. Fowler, who finished with 125 yards on nine carries, also accounted for Alabama’s last touchdown of the game, a 69-yard run, to bring the final score to 52-7. 

In between those two touchdown runs, sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron, who completed 19 of 24 passes for 224 yards, connected with senior wide receiver Brandon Gibson for a 10-yard touchdown pass.

When Ole Miss finally put together a drive in the second half, they turned the ball over at the Alabama one-yard line after three unsuccessful runs and an incomplete pass.

And then it was over. Now, halfway through the 2011 season and winless in SEC play, Ole Miss must regroup and move on without two of the senior defensive captains with back-to-back ranked teams next on the schedule.

“We had a talk,” freshman wide receiver Tobias Singleton said. “We’re still as one. Alabama is over with. They’ve got a pretty good team. We’re moving on to Arkansas now.”