Alabama has been in a bit of a battle with Mississippi State so far this afternoon, but the big plays have gone Alabama’s way in the first half. A 69-yard punt return for a touchdown by Cyrus Jones, a 60-yard touchdown catch by Calvin Ridley and a 74-run by Derrick Henry have given Alabama a 21-3 lead in an otherwise evenly played game.
Alabama has needed the big plays to come through as they have, because the Crimson Tide have struggled against the Bulldogs defense. Alabama was without a third-down conversion before the big pass from Jake Coker to Ridley on a third-and-five situation. Ridley had plenty of open field with Mississippi State not pressing on coverage, and he get a heck of a block heading downfield as well. Later in the quarter, Henry had his first big run of the day, and it counted in a big way. After being contained for the first few possessions, Henry found room to run 74-yards for a touchdown. That run set a new SEC record for most consecutive games with a rushing touchdown (15).
Mississippi State had a chance to get in the endzone in the first quarter, but a goal line stand by Alabama was not fooled by Mississippi State sending multiple players in motion before Dak Prescott attempted to push straight forward. Mississippi State also missed a 50-yard field goal try in the first half, but Westin Graves connecting on his second try of the half for the first points of the day for Mississippi State. Alabama’s defense has already sacked Prescott five times.
Alabama running back Kenyan Drake was taken to the locker room in the second quarter with an air cast around his right arm. A medical staff member of Alabama’s was seen on TV holding the arm level as Drake made his way to the locker room. Alabama head coach Nick Saban was also hurt after being on the receiving end of a player running out of bounds, but he survived with a minor scrape on his face.