Defense Hangs Tough In Loss To No. 1 Alabama

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The No. 21-ranked Ole Miss defense spent nearly 40 minutes on the field and held tough for most of the game, as the Rebels fell 25-0 to No. 1 Alabama on Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Outside of two long touchdown runs, a 68-yarder by T.J. Yeldon and a 50-yarder by Kenyan Drake, the Ole Miss defense allowed just nine points, three first-half Cade Foster field goals.

"We're real proud of their effort," head coach Hugh Freeze said of the defense. "On the two long touchdown runs, we let a guy get free to make a play and missed a tackle. It had to be frustrating to be on that side of the ball because we couldn't' get life in us because we could not produce any points."

Senior cornerback Charles Sawyer and sophomore linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche returned from injury, while freshman Derrick Jones made his college debut after switching from wide receiver to cornerback. Another change was freshman Robert Nkemdiche who moved inside to defensive tackle for most of the game, having previously lined up primarily at defense end.

Junior linebacker Serderius Bryant, who started for the third straight game, led the team with nine tackles, and freshman Huskie Tony Conner tied a career high with seven tackles. 

The Ole Miss defense forced three first-half fumbles, none of which were recovered, and Alabama went into halftime leading 9-0.

"It's aggravating," junior safety Cody Prewitt said of the fumbles. "We had three opportunities to get a turnover at a crucial point in the game, and we weren't able to capitalize. It's aggravating whenever that happens. You can't just stay thinking about that. You have to play the next play."

Yeldon broke his 68-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to extend the Alabama lead to 16-0, then the Ole Miss defense forced a turnover on the first play of the fourth quarter to temporarily turn the momentum in the game. 

Bryant tipped an A.J. McCarron pass right into the arms of Prewitt for his third interception of the season, and the Rebels took over at the Alabama 31. 

On the ensuing drive, Ole Miss converted a 4th-and-2 on a 5-yard run by senior running back Jeff Scott, but the Rebels were then unable to convert on 4th-and-10 from the Alabama 18, and the Crimson Tide took over on downs and wrapped up the win.

"We're a lot better than we were last year," Prewitt said. "We made fewer mistakes than we did last year. We definitely still have some work to do. We haven't lost any confidence whatsoever. We know that this was the number one team in the nation, and they're number one for a reason. And we knew that we would have to play an almost perfect game, and we know we made some mistakes. 

"Our confidence is not broken. We are going to go in and fix the mistakes tomorrow, and have our heads held high going into Auburn."

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    Hunter Comstock said:

    Strange things happen to Ole Miss football teams in games played on Halloween. I don't know if I can bear to watch this one or not.

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    Hunter Comstock said:

    Boy, I surely hope the Rebels don't have anymore nail biters like the Bama game. My nerves won't take it.

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    Joe Snaidauf said:

    Rebs stay healthy, they can win it all!!!

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    Jamie laverty said:

    Bulmer I love you and ole Miss

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    Rhonda said:

    Coach Freeze is a genuine coach and our players and fans adore him!!

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    Gary Vaughn said:

    It's great to be a Rebel fan. Coach Freeze
    Has brought back the excitement
    Competitiveness we all so desire. The
    fan base and even our doubters are
    Paying attention. Even the whole country
    Sport tLk shows ect. Are taking notice.
    After we upset Alabama this weekend
    38-27 we will bolt to a top 12 or better
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    Tom said:

    I am not and never have been an Ole Miss fan. I am however a Coach Freeze fan. I like what he represents in today's world of big time sports and what he stands for in leading young men of today into a more responsible role. He is everything that Ole Miss has never had. I am on his band wagon winning or losing.

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    Cory Wilson said:

    How can I get my hands on one of these?

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