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September 30, 2012

Tide special teams has big night against Ole Miss

TUSCALOOSA | It was an uncomfortable pause inside Bryant-Denny Stadium, which went from raucous to silent in one play. It was but a brief pause, however. Just 15 seconds, to be exact.

That's precisely how long Ole Miss' joy and lead lasted over Alabama on Saturday night under the lights and national television audience courtesy of ESPN cameras. That's all it took for Christion Jones to stride 99 yards, erase Alabama's lone deficit of the season and put the Crimson Tide on its way to its fifth win.

Jones' touchdown return, the first for a UA player since Trent Richardson returned a kickoff 91 yards for a score against Duke on Sept. 18, 2010, came on the ensuing kickoff after Jeff Scott's 1-yard score staked the Rebels to a 7-6 advantage near the beginning of the second quarter. The 99-yarder tied for eighth longest play in school history.

Catching the ball at the 1, Jones headed up the right hash and got excellent blocking before heading wide to the home sideline, where a convoy of blockers sprung him for the go-ahead touchdown.

"In my mind, I was thinking, 'Let's go ahead and get on to the house,' " Jones said. "Let's change the atmosphere of the game."

His teammates agreed it changed the game.

"That was very much needed," Dee Milliner said. "We needed that to get the team back going to spark us up. We needed that on special teams because we really haven't had a kickoff return yet this year. For him to take it back feels great for the special teams and for the team."

It highlighted a great night of special teams play for the Crimson Tide, which got its first six points of the game on a pair of Jeremy Shelley 38-yard field goals. The senior kicker finished 4 for 4, adding 26- and 24-yard field goals in the fourth quarter. Shelley improved to 7 for 7 on the season with a long of 38 yards. Cade Foster, who did not attempt a field goal Saturday, is 4 for 6 on the season.

UA punter Cody Mandell punted three times for an average of 41 yards, allowing just one return. Foster booted five touchbacks on kickoffs in the first half. It's been a good season for Foster, who recorded eight touchbacks against Arkansas and six against Florida Atlantic. He finished the night with seven touchbacks on eight kickoffs.

The Alabama defense allowed a total of 218 yards to Ole Miss - 80 yards rushing and 138 yards passing. Crimson Tide defenders tallied five total sacks, led by Adrian Hubbard's 1.5.

Ole Miss quarterbacks Bo Wallace and Randall Mackey were intercepted three times, with Wallace tossing two and Mackey one.



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