No. 2 Alabama loses 43-37 to No. 15 Mississippi
Sep. 20, 2015
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Jake Coker came off the bench and nearly brought Alabama back from a 20-point deficit.
The second-ranked Crimson Tide instead lost 43-37 to No. 15 Mississippi on Saturday night, done in by mistakes that washed away every big play Coker, Derrick Henry and the defense could muster.
Chad Kelly completed a deflected 66-yard touchdown pass and added two more long ones in the fourth quarter for the Rebels (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference). The Crimson Tide (2-1, 0-1) committed five turnovers, two on fumbled kick returns, that Ole Miss turned into 24 points.
"We thought last year when we played we gave some things away, and I really don't want to take anything away from Ole Miss," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "They played a really good game. But are you going to be a giver, or are you going to be a taker? And I think if you are going to be a great competitor, you've got to take what you want.
"I don't know if there's anybody we can beat if we're going to give away (24) points, I really don't."
The Rebels left the topsy-turvy game with their first victory in Bryant-Denny Stadium since 1988, and second straight in a one-sided series. The Tide had been 25-1 in Tuscaloosa against Ole Miss and had never lost two straight in the series.
The past two meetings went down to the wire and were settled with the help of Rebels interceptions.
"We certainly think we're at a point now where it's not a shock," Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze said. "I still say it would be an upset in most people's eyes to do it here.
"I don't think it surprises the people in our locker room. Our pregame was as short as it's ever been. I said, 'You're good enough to win.'"
The Rebels made two final defensive stands, the first when Tony Bridges intercepted a deep ball from Coker, who directed a comeback bid from deficits of 30-10 and 43-24 after Cooper Bateman made his first start.
Kelly delivered big play after big play following an ineffective first half, none wilder than a fling and a prayer in the third quarter, a 66-yard deflection caught by Quincy Adeboyejo for a touchdown.
Kelly bobbled a high snap and lofted a desperation pass toward a crowd as he was going down in a swarm of Tide defenders. Adeboyejo grabbed the tipped ball and raced toward the end zone in front of Alabama's student section.
"Right after that you think, 'Hey, we're winning this,'" Kelly said. "And that's exactly how we all thought, that this was our game."
He added a 73-yarder to Cody Core and a 24-yarder to Laquon Treadwell in the fourth quarter. Kelly passed for 341 yards and three touchdowns after producing just 36 yards through the air in the first half.
Alabama had won 17 straight at home to tie Baylor for the longest active streak in FBS, another milestone snapped by a feisty Ole Miss team that's established itself as an SEC contender under Freeze.
Coker led two touchdown drives in a span of 2:03 late in the fourth quarter, aided by an onside kick. Henry scored on a 2-yard run and Richard Mullaney caught a 2-yard touchdown pass. Coker also was picked off by Bridges downfield with 2:36 left.
Coker was 21-of-44 passing for 201 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Henry ran for 127 yards.
Coker had started the previous two games. Regarded as the more athletic option, Bateman was 11 of 14 for 87 yards with an interception.
Coker, meanwhile, ran seven times for 58 yards.
"We had some things in the game plan early that the quarterback was going to pull the ball on and do some things, so we thought Cooper's speed would be sort of a change of pace for them, a little bit of an element of surprise," Saban said.
Alabama got one more chance with 31 seconds left but had four straight incompletions, including a drop.