Alabama vs.Mississippi State

  Date: 11/10/2007  
  Score: 12-17  
  Alabama vs. Mississippi State

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Alabama built an early nine point lead against Mississippi State, but two turnovers led directly to touchdowns as the Bulldogs dealt the Crimson Tide a painful 17-12 loss at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field in Starkville.

After Alabama kicked off to start the game, Tide safety Rashad Johnson picked off State quarterback Wesley Carroll on the Bulldogs’ first possession, setting up Alabama at the State 33-yard line. Six plays later, Leigh Tiffin kicked his first of four field goals on the day, a 39-yarder, to give Alabama a 3-0 lead.

Alabama would add two more field goals in the first half, a 29-yarder and a career-long 51-yarder from Tiffin to take a 9-3 lead over the Bulldogs late into the second quarter. Late in the second quarter, the Tide offense constructed an impressive drive from its own 20 to the State 4-yard line as the period drew to a close, the Tide appeared to be taking complete command of the game with a 13-play, 78-yard march that culminated in a third down-and-goal to go play at the State 2 with 21 seconds left in the half. Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson faked a handoff to tailback Terry Grant and faded to throw but was met by State defensive end Titus Brown as soon as he turned to throw. Wilson’s hurried and blind throw flew softly into the hands of State cornerback Anthony Johnson in the MSU end zone and Johnson returned it untouched for 100 yards and a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 10-9 lead at halftime.

The demoralizing impact of that play on the Alabama offense was obvious and undeniable, and its impact would continue to be felt for the remainder of the game. The Tide offense could not mount a consistent rushing attack and the State defense continued to gain confidence as the game continued.

"I am not going to lose my confidence just because I throw a couple of interceptions," Wilson said. "That’s not like me; I have never done that before. We just could not get things going."

On Alabama’s first possession of the second half, Wilson threw another interception that State’s Derek Pegues returned to the Alabama 25. That play set the stage for State’s only other touchdown of the day, a three-yard run from Anthony Dixon for a 17-9 State lead with 11:35 left in the third quarter.

Alabama could manage only a field goal in the second half, a 50-yarder from Tiffin that capped a 10-play, 44-yard drive with 6:47 left in the game. Tiffin finished the day 4-of-4 on field goals, matching a career-high for kicks in a game, ending the game having made his last eight field goal attempts and improving to 21-of-28 on the season.

"Tiffin did a great job today," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "He made some big kicks in a 51- and 50-yarder in critical times in the game."

Wilson finished the day 16-of-34 for 121 yards with two interceptions. Three seniors led the Alabama receiving corps, with DJ Hall catching five passes for 46 yards, Matt Caddell catching three passes for 53 yards and Keith Brown with two catches for 12 yards. Terry Grant had 19 carries for 75 yards and Jonathan Lowe had eight carries for 40 yards.

On defense, linebacker Darren Mustin led the Tide with seven tackles. Defensive end Wallace Gilberry had six tackles, including three for loss and a sack. Free safety Rashad Johnson’s first-quarter interception was his team leading sixth of the year. He also had five tackles.

"Obviously very disappointing," said Saban. "We didn’t execute. Mississippi State did a great job today and they deserved to win. We didn’t make the plays in the game that we needed to make. It is everybody’s responsibility starting with me and the coaching staff. We had a critical turnover right before the half that was at least a ten point swing maybe a fourteen point swing. Regardless of all that, we didn’t do the things that we needed to do."