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September 30, 2012

Jones' kick return takes wind out of Rebels

TUSCALOOSA | In everyday life not many things can happen in 15 seconds, but for Ole Miss all it took was 15 seconds for the Alabama Crimson Tide to send the Rebels down a spiral they could never recover from.

With 13:40 remaining in the second quarter, the Rebels grabbed a surprising 7-6 lead on a 1-yard run by Jeff Scott that stirred the Ole Miss fans into an upset-minded frenzy. Before that play, top-ranked Alabama had not trailed since its overtime loss to LSU last season.

In the next 15 seconds, however, the jubilation turned into disbelief when the Crimson Tide regained the lead on a 99-yard kickoff return by Christion Jones.

When a reporter asked Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze to describe his emotions regarding the momentum-shifting play, Freeze shook his head in disbelief before he replied.

"Furious, anger, disappointment, all of those," Freeze said. "That was a big play in the game. Our kick was bad. It was a line drive and our coverage team couldn't get down there.

"Very disappointing. We had some momentum and our kids were jacked. We were feeling good. I'm not saying it would have changed the outcome of the game, but it would have gotten us into halftime better."

The special teams turnaround ignited an explosive second quarter for Alabama as its defense had three interceptions and its offense added two more touchdowns for a 27-7 halftime lead.

"We turned the football over because of us being greedy," Freeze admitted. "On two of the picks, we had the flat wide open. I've got to coach them better not to get greedy."

It took Ole Miss two series before its no-huddle offense gained traction and put together a solid 13-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Scott's run. During the scoring march, Bo Wallace threw a 31-yard pass to Donte Moncrief that powered the Rebels into Alabama territory.

But the success was short-lived as Ole Miss wilted during the second-half barrage from the Crimson Tide. Wallace threw two interceptions before Freeze tried Randall Mackey at quarterback on one series and then Barry Brunetti just before halftime.

The experiment with Mackey ended with an interception by Deion Belue.

"The mistakes really hurt us tonight," Mackey said. "We were just saying all week long we were going to come out and hit them in the mouth and fight them to the end. We know the mistakes that we made."

Despite thei second-quarter doldrums, the Rebels managed to rebound in the third quarter when they drove 70 yards in 16 plays. Ole Miss converted twice on fourth down to keep the series alive. Mackey scored on a 12-yard run with 6:35 remaining in the third to trim the deficit to 27-14.

"It's hard to drive the football on that defense they have," Freeze said. "They're so talented, so physical. We had two really nice drives but just could not stay away from negative plays."



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