FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas got its first turnover of the year and the kings of overtime played their first-ever extra-period game in Fayetteville as the Razorbacks took advantage of missed opportunities by No. 22 Alabama to post a 24-23 double-overtime victory on Saturday.
The win improves the Razorbacks to 3-1 overall and more importantly 2-0 in the SEC for the first time since 1998. The win is the first for Arkansas over a ranked team since Sept. 13, 2003, when UA won at No. 5 Texas, 38-28. It is the first win over a ranked team in Fayetteville since Oct. 27, 2001, when the Hogs topped No. 17 Auburn, 42-17.
Leigh Tiffin missed three field goals and an extra point for Alabama, including a field goal in the first overtime and the extra point in the second overtime. Jeremy Davis’ PAT conversion for Arkansas was the game-winner in the second overtime.
With the win, Arkansas is now 6-1 in overtime games, but this is the first overtime game for the Hogs since 2003 and the first played in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks have played in the three longest games in NCAA history – a pair of seven-overtime victories (58-56 at Ole Miss in 2001 and 71-63 at Kentucky in 2003) and a six-overtime loss (41-38 at Tennessee in 2002). This is the second overtime win for Arkansas over Alabama. UA claimed another double-overtime victory in Tuscaloosa in 2003, 34-31.
Saturday’s game may not have lived up to previous Arkansas standards for number of overtimes, but it did not lack for dramatics.
Mitch Mustain was picked off by Lionel Mitchell in the first overtime. Alabama ran Kenneth Darby three times for five yards on its possession, settling for a 37-yard field goal attempt. Tiffen was wide right for the third time after earlier missing to the right from 33 and 30 yards.
In the second extra period, Alabama (3-1, 0-1) went first. Six plays into the drive, John Parker Wilson hit Nick Walker for a one-yard touchdown, but Tiffin pushed the extra point to the right.
On Arkansas’ possession, Darren McFadden, who finished with 112 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries, gained 12 yards on first down. Three plays later, Mitch Mustain, who was just seven-of-22 for 97 yards with three interceptions, faced a third-and-eight. He fired a pass into the right corner of the end zone where Ben Cleveland went above two defenders to make the catch for his second touchdown of the season.
Davis, who missed an extra point earlier, ended it when he nailed the conversion attempt down the middle.
Down 17-10 early in the fourth quarter, Wilson, who was 16-of-20 for 243 yards and three touchdowns, capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 14-yard scoring pass to Keith Brown with 13:36 remaining.
Jeffrey Dukes intercepted a Mustain pass at the Alabama 42 and the Crimson Tide moved into field goal territory for a potential game-winner. Wilson hit Brown for seven yards and carried twice for 12 yards before four straight carries by Kenneth Darby for 14 yards moved the ball to the Arkansas nine.
Three plays later, with 3:06 left, Tiffin missed the 30-yarder.
Arkansas moved to its 49 before being forced to punt and Alabama got the ball with only 15 seconds left in regulation to force the overtime.
Down 10-3 at the half, Arkansas went to McFadden and then got big plays from its defense.
McFadden’s three-yard touchdown pulled the Hogs within one before the defense, counting penalties, pushed the Crimson Tide back 29 yards on its next two possessions.
On its first possession of the second half, Arkansas drove 93 yards in 13 plays to get within 10-9. McFadden carried the load, running eight times for 51 yards and getting the score on a three-yard pitch to the left.
McFadden opened the possession with carries of four, 29 and five yards. A pass interference penalty gained the Razorbacks 15 yards and a Mustain keeper on third down gained another first down at the Alabama 27.
Following two incompletions, Mustain hit Felix Jones for 23 yards on a screen pass to the Alabama four. McFadden got in three plays later, but the extra point was no good, leaving Alabama with a 10-9 advantage.
After a turnover, Alabama took over at the Arkansas 45. Wilson faced a third and 13 at the 48, but Antwain Robinson, who had 2.5 sacks for 19 yards, got to Wilson for a loss of 13 yards and forced a fumble. Randy Kelly scooped it up at the 39 and raced to the left corner of the end zone to put Arkansas ahead 15-10.
Mustain hit McFadden in the right flat on the two-point attempt for a 17-10 lead with 4:08 left in the third quarter.
Kelly finished with 13 tackles, the fumble return for a touchdown, a sack and a tackle for a loss. Arkansas entered the game last in all of NCAA Division I with no forced turnovers for the season.
The Razorback defense had a season-high 5.5 sacks for 38 yards and limited the Crimson Tide to 118 rushing yards, which is 41 yards below Alabama’s average.
Despite the big play, Alabama answered on its next possession with Wilson hitting Brown for the 14-yard score to tie the game 17-17.
Alabama extended its lead to 10-3 at the end of the first half with Leigh Tiffin’s 46-yard field goal, but it could have been more for the Tide.
Wilson scrambled for 23 yards on one play and 10 yards on another, moving Alabama to the Arkansas 15. After a false start moved the ball to the 20, Kelly and Robinson got to Wilson for a nine-yard sack on third down, setting up Tiffin’s field goal.
Arkansas had a chance to set itself up for another score after Jacob Skinner’s 43-yard punt pinned Alabama at its one.
Alabama moved out to the 10 and on third-and-one, Darby gained 12 yards to the 22. On first down, Wilson had time to wait for D.J. Hall to get open deep down the middle of the field for a 78-yard scoring pass, which gave the Tide a 7-3 lead with 8:50 left in the half.
Skinner set up the first score of the game with a 30-yard punt downed by Chris Houston at the Alabama seven.
A four-yard sack by Jamaal Anderson at the seven forced P.J. Fitzgerald to punt from his end zone.
Cedric Washington, in his first game as Arkansas’ punt returner, returned the punt eight yards to the Alabama 37.
McFadden had runs of 12 and nine yards on the drive, but Mustain’s third-down pass from the seven was incomplete.
Sophomore Jeremy Davis converted his first career field goal attempt, hitting from 24 yards out to give the Hogs a 3-0 with 4:43 left in the first quarter.
Davis’ field goal extended Arkansas’ streak of consecutive games scoring to a school-record matching 125. The first streak was from 1973-83.
Alabama had a chance to take the lead on its ensuing possession with Wilson surviving a couple of big hits to move his team down the field.
Sam Olajubutu popped Wilson on a scramble for no gain at the Alabama 29. Wilson bounced back and found D.J. Hall for 26 yards and a first down to the Arkansas 49. Wilson took another big hit under heavy pressure on a third-down incompletion, but a personal foul on UA’s Michael Grant gave the Tide a first down at the Razorback 17.
Alabama drove inside the 10, but a holding penalty and a false start pushed the Crimson Tide back to the 26, and Leigh Tiffin’s 33-yard field goal attempt was wide right. The Hogs took over at their seven and moved out near midfield where Skinner hit his 43-yard punt to the one.
Jones finished with 65 yards on four carries while Marcus Monk had 53 yards on two receptions.
Darby had 64 yards on 26 carries for Alabama. Brown had seven receptions for 97 yards and Hall six catches for 144 yards.
Arkansas is off next week before traveling to Auburn on Oct. 7.