OXFORD, Mississippi — Alabama's new high-powered offense was nowhere to be found on Saturday afternoon. Its usual clutch plays in the fourth quarter were missing as well.
Instead, it was upstart Mississippi with the big moments in the final minutes, with quarterback Bo Wallace leading the 11th-ranked Rebels to a come-from-behind 23-17 victory over No. 3 Alabama.
Alabama led 17-10 midway through the fourth quarter and appeared to have the game in control, grinding away at the Ole Miss defense with running backs T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry. Yeldon finished with 123 yards rushing on 20 carries.
But Wallace emerged as the hero, throwing for 251 yards and three touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter. The go-ahead score was a 10-yard pass to Jaylen Walton with 2:54 remaining.
Alabama (4-1, 1-1 SEC) still had a chance to win, driving the field quickly in the final minutes, but Senquez Golson intercepted a pass from Blake Sims in the end zone with 37 seconds remaining.
"You really have to give Ole Miss a lot of credit in the way they finished the game," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "We did not finish the game like we needed to. I think the question for our team is, 'How do you respond to a loss?' There are several teams around here who have lost games and responded the right way."
But before that happens, the Tide will likely spend at least a day or two wondering how this one got away.
The Rebels (5-0, 2-0) have won five games to start the season for the first time since 1962 and ended a 10-game losing streak against the Tide.
When it was over, drinks flew into the air and students rushed the field in disbelief, celebrating what may be the biggest win for Ole Miss in a generation. It also capped a stunning day for the Magnolia State — No. 12 Mississippi State beat No. 6 Texas A&M 48-31 earlier Saturday in Starkville.
The Rebels trailed 17-10 midway through the fourth quarter, but pulled even on Wallace's 34-yard touchdown pass to Vince Sanders with 5:29 remaining.
On the ensuing kickoff, Alabama's Christion Jones fumbled and Ole Miss' Kalio Moore recovered, giving the Rebels great field position at the Alabama 31. Channing Ward forced the fumble.
A few plays later, Wallace found Walton in the end zone for the lead.
"Dropped balls, turnovers, penalties and those sorts of things are not something you can do against a good football team, especially on the road," Saban said.
Golson's interception was an acrobatic catch in the back of the end zone after the long heave by Sims. He was originally ruled out of bounds, but replays showed he cradled the pass with his left hand and landed just inside the end zone.
After the call was confirmed by the officials, a euphoric stadium erupted. Students hung from the goal posts after the game and eventually pulled one down, carrying it across the field in jubilation.
Wallace completed 18 of 31 passes, saving his best for last. The confident senior has often had a gunslinger's reputation in the past, mixing great passes with inexplicable interceptions.
But he kept mistakes to the minimum Saturday, coolly leading the Rebels when they needed him most.
It was a surprise ending to a game Alabama controlled most of the day. The Rebels won despite being outgained 396 to 323.
Amari Cooper caught nine passes for 91 yards. But the Tide offense, which was terrific through September under first-year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, was mostly ordinary on Saturday.
Sims was coming off a 445-yard, four-touchdown performance against Florida two weeks ago, but couldn't provide any heroics on Saturday.
Ole Miss jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the end of the first quarter, but Alabama responded with a 12-play, 68-yard drive midway through the second quarter that ended with Sims' 1-yard touchdown run on fourth down.
But Alabama's biggest play by far came a few minutes later. Cyrus Jones stripped the ball from Ole Miss running back I'Tavius Mathers, scooped it up and ran 13 yards untouched for a touchdown and a 14-3 lead.
Television replays showed Jones grabbing Mathers' face mask on the play, but it was a non-reviewable call so the touchdown call was allowed to stand.
The no-call hurt the Rebels, but so did an ineffective offense. Ole Miss gained only 105 yards in the first half as the Alabama defense stuffed the Rebels at almost every turn.
The Tide lost running back Kenyan Drake to a leg injury in the second quarter. Saban said they believe the leg is broken and Drake has already been taken back to Birmingham, Alabama.
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