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Undefeated Tide hold back Ole Miss

Alabama needs late stand after leading by 21

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Turns out No. 2 Alabama plays pretty well from behind. It’s playing from ahead that gave the Crimson Tide fits Saturday.

Alabama surged to a big halftime lead after trailing for the first time all season, then let most of it slip away before coming up with a late defensive stand to hold off Mississippi for a 24-20 victory.

“That hadn’t happened to us yet this year,” quarterback John Parker Wilson said. “It was good to see us respond.”

In the end, it was another down-to-the-wire win for the Tide (7-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) over the Rebels, who dominated the second half and still had a shot at the upset approaching the final minute.

This one wasn’t decided until Jevan Snead’s fourth-and-5 pass to Dexter McCluster, who was well covered by Javier Arenas, fell incomplete with 61 seconds to play.

The Tide have won their past two games by a total of seven points since rising to No. 2 with a series of easy victories. It was also another in a series of close calls with Ole Miss (3-4, 1-3). Alabama had won each of the past three meetings by a field goal, but holds a commanding 23-1 advantage in Tuscaloosa.

Wilson threw for a season-high 219 yards and a pair of touchdowns and helped Alabama race to 24 straight points after facing a 3-0 deficit and giving up points in the opening quarter for the first time all season.

Then Ole Miss answered with 17 straight points and closed to within 24-20 on Joshua Shene’s 35-yard field goal with 6:09 left.

The Tide pushed the ball across midfield on its next possession aiming to put the game away, but the drive stalled. P.J. Fitzgerald’s short punt gave Ole Miss the ball at its 24 with 3:03 left.

Snead ran it on the first three plays, including once for a 5-yard gain when a pass that was batted right back into his arms by Bobby Greenwood. Brandon Deaderick then had a sack before Snead threw an incompletion and hit McCluster for a 10-yard gain to set up the fourth-down play.