Ole Miss football fell six points short to Alabama on Saturday. The Rebels lost fair and square.
However, an egregious no-call came at a crucial moment late in the game and may have altered the outcome — had it been flagged correctly. Crimson Tide linebacker Dallas Turner got away with slamming quarterback Jaxson Dart’s head into the turf. Twice.
Midway through the fourth quarter, as Ole Miss trailed 27-24, Lane Kiffin left his offense on the field to try and convert 4th-and-8 at the Alabama 41-yard-line. Dart took the snap and looked for an open man but was quickly swallowed up.
The sack forced a turnover-on-downs and gave the ball back to Bryce Young with less than seven minutes left to play. On the proceeding drive, the Crimson Tide went 28 yards on nine plays and added a field goal to their lead.
Turner was responsible for the game-changing sack on Dart. He got the best of the Ole Miss offensive line to get into the backfield and take down the quarterback. It was a clean play.
What Dallas Turner did after the play was not clean.
As Turner got back up to his feet, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound sophomore forcefully put his left hand on the back of Dart’s head. He then shoved him face-first into the turf.
There is a case to be made that he was just using Dart’s head to help stand up, but it would be wrong. And if you really think it was unintentional, what happened next completely negates that thought.
Before Turner stood up and celebrated the sack, he put both of his hands on Dart’s helmet and shoved his head into the grass. Here is how it went down:
Somehow, a penalty flag was not thrown. Maybe the officials missed it.
Whatever the reason for the no-call, Turner should have been penalized for unnecessary roughness.
Again, the Rebels lost.
One overlooked penalty does not account for the entire game. One play does not speak to the entire evening.
But with that being said, Ole Miss should have received a fresh set of downs after the penalty on Turner. Alabama would not have gotten the ball back at midfield. Or, if the officials ruled it happened after the change-of-possession, at the very least Alabama would have started 15 yards farther back.
Maybe the Rebels would have scored. Maybe their defense would have stepped up and made a stop to win the game, since they’d have had more room for error.
Imagine if that happened to Bryce Young?! All hell would break loose. Not for Dart.