TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – John Parker Wilson hit Matt Caddell for a touchdown in the back left corner of the end zone with eight seconds remaining to give Alabama a 41-38 victory over No. 16 Arkansas and spoil two big rallies by the Razorbacks.
Arkansas dropped to 1-1 on the year and 0-1 in the Southeastern Conference while Alabama is 3-0 and 2-0.
Arkansas trailed by 21 twice, 21-0 in the first quarter and 31-10 late in the third before rallying to take a 38-31 lead.
The Razorbacks had the ball with 4:20 left and picked up one first down by getting out to their 35, but had to punt. Alabama took over at its 27 with 2:13 remaining. Wilson completed seven passes in the last drive with the last one coming from the four on third-and-one.
Wilson was 24-of-45 for the game for 327 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions. Caddall was his top target with nine receptions for 91 yards and the score. D.J. Hall had six catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns.
Alabama’s passing offset big games by Arkansas’ Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. McFadden had 195 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries. McFadden missed Arkansas’ last series of the game. Jones had 96 yards on 16 carries.
Casey Dick was 11-of-23 passing for 145 yards and three touchdowns with an interception. London Crawford, Peyton Hillis and McFadden had three receptions each.
Leigh Tiffin’s 42-yard field goal with 4:20 left pulled Alabama within 38-34 after the Crimson Tide
drove from its 39 to the Arkansas 25. After reaching the 29, Mike McCoy had a four-yard reception around two incompletions to force the field goal attempt.
Down by 21 twice in the game, Arkansas rallied both times and took its first lead with 8:08 left in the contest on a seven-yard pass from Dick to Hillis.
The 64-yard drive included a 32-yard cutback run by Jones and a 20-yard run by McFadden. On Third-and-four at the seven, Dick rolled right, avoided a rush and found Hillis inside the five on the right side of the field.
Arkansas drew even for the first time with 12:05 left in the contest on McFadden’s five-yard run up the middle.
Turnovers hurt Arkansas throughout the game, but Alabama turnovers allowed the Razorbacks to get back in it.
A Jerell Norton interception set up the tying score after giving Arkansas possession at the Alabama 26. McFadden had runs of six, eight and 12 yards before getting the touchdown.
McFadden’s one-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter got Arkansas within 31-24. The score was set up when strong safety Matt Hewitt recovered a fumble at the Alabama 42. McFadden had an 11-yard gain to the 11 and Jones a 17-yarder to the two.
After falling behind by 21 for the second time, McFadden had runs of 13 and seven before Jones got free for a 36-yard gain to the Alabama five. Two plays later, Dick rolled to the right and hit a wide open Andrew Davie for the touchdown to get Arkansas within 31-17 with 3:05 left in the third period.
Before that, the second half was all Alabama thanks to a turnover and punt return in the third that led to 10 Tide points as Alabama regained control after losing its first 21-point lead.
Punting from the 26, Jeremy Davis bobbled the snap and got the punt off, but Javier Arenas returned the kick 58 yards to the Arkansas two. On first down, Wilson rolled to his left and hit Nick Walker for the touchdown and a 31-10 lead with 5:15 left in the third.
A turnover led to the first points of the second half. Arkansas stopped the Crimson Tide on its first possession and Dick completed a 19-yard pass to Crawford to the 49. Crawford was open coming across the middle and fumbled while shifting the ball to his right hand.
Alabama recovered and on first down Wilson found Hall for 44 yards to the Arkansas four. Three plays resulted in losses of three yards and Alabama settled for Tiffin’s 24-yard field goal and a 24-10 lead with 10:57 remaining in the third quarter.
Arkansas got on the board with 6:03 left in the first half with a play-action pass from Dick to Crosby Tuck down the left sideline for a 40-yard score. The pass came after two straight runs by McFadden, but a 21-yard pass from Dick to Hillis moved Arkansas from its 30 to the Alabama 49.
The score got the Hogs within 21-7.
A Matterral Richardson interception set up another Arkansas score. His pick and return gave the Hogs the ball at their 45 with 2:56 left in the half.
McFadden had a 23-yard run to the Alabama 32 and a facemask penalty against the Tide on Jones moved the ball to the 11. Jones carried to the four but two straight incompletions forced Arkansas to settle for Alex Tejada’s 22-yard field goal with 23 seconds left to get the Razorbacks within 21-10 at the half.
The first quarter was all Alabama.
Wilson passed for 138 yards on 6-of-9 passing in the opening quarter alone, including consecutive 31-yard completions to Hall for a touchdown to give Alabama a 21-0 lead. Those passes capped a four-play, 80-yard drive with 1:27 left in the first quarter.
Terry Grant set up Alabama’s second score of the day. Wilson had completions of 11 and nine yards before Grant swept around the right end 39 yards to the Arkansas 15. Two plays later, Glen Coffee sprinted through the left side for a 14-yard score, giving Alabama a 14-0 lead with 4:21 left in the first period.
Grant, who entered the game as the SEC’s leading rusher with an average of 153.5 yards per game, had 96 on 20 carries.
Alabama took an early lead following an Arkansas turnover.
On the Razorbacks’ second possession, with the Hogs backed up deep on their end of the field, a Dick pass was tipped and intercepted by linebacker Darren Mustin, setting up the Crimson Tide with a first-and-goal at the Hog nine.
On second down, Wilson zipped a ball to Hall in the front left corner of the end zone. Hall, who earlier in the game topped Ozzie Newsom’s Alabama career receiving yards record, wrestled the ball away from Richardson for a 7-0 advantage with 8:35 left in the first quarter.
Arkansas returns home on Saturday to play host to Kentucky at 5 p.m.
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