Knoxville, Tenn.- Tennessee quarterback Casey Clausen hit tight end Jason Witten on a 25-yard touchdown pass in the sixth overtime period to give the 10th-ranked Vols a 41-38 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday night at Neyland Stadium. The game was the second longest in NCAA history. Last season, the Arkansas and Ole Miss set the NCAA record for the longest game with a seven overtime contest in Oxford.
The loss dropped the Razorbacks to 2-2 overall and 0-2 in the Southeastern Conference, while the Volunteers improved to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the SEC.
The Vols’ winning touchdown came after the Razorbacks had connected on a 47-yard field goal by David Carlton to take a 38-35 lead on the first possession of the sixth overtime.
The Razorbacks forced overtime after rallying from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
Tennessee took a 17-3 lead on Jabari Davis’ 58-yard touchdown run with 14:03 left in the game.
The Hogs then began an 11-play, 60-yard scoring march that culminated with De’Arrius Howard’s 10-yard scoring run to cut the Vols’ lead to 17-10 with 6:65 left in the game.
With 3:45 remaining, the Razorbacks took over at their eight yard line needing a touchdown to tie. Quarterback Matt Jones needed only one play as he scrambled out of the pocket and found Richard Smith who went 92 yards untouched for the tying score.
The 92-yard throw-and-catch marked the longest offensive play in Arkansas history.
“Our players fought their guts out,” Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. “We were one play away. This one is hard on them (players). We improved in some areas and did some things better. This is bitter.”
The score remained tied after each team converted field goal attempts in the first two overtimes.
In the fourth overtime, Jones put the Hogs ahead 29-23 with a five-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion was no good.
Tennessee answered, however, when Tony Brown hauled in a 25-yard scoring pass from Clausen to knot the game at 29-29. The Vols also failed on the two-point conversion.
In the fifth overtime, Davis gave the Vols a 35-29 lead with a one-yard plunge into the endzone. This time, Arkansas answered when Howard also scored from the one. Both two-point conversions failed leading to Tennessee’s dramatic game-winning touchdown in the sixth overtime.
For the game, Arkansas finished with 449 yards of total offense with 238 coming from the ground game and 211 through the air.
Jones hit 11-of-19 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown. Cedric Cobbs ran for 84 yards on 16 carries, while Howard carried the ball 20 times for 77 yards and two scores.
Richard Smith hauled in three receptions for 125 yards, while George Wilson had three catches for 27 yards.
The Vols had 453 yards of total offense including 162 rushing and 291 passing. Clausen completed 19-of-28 passes with two touchdowns and one interception.
Davis led all rushers with 135 yards on 25 carries and two scores. Kelley Washington had six catches for 112 yards to lead UT receivers.
The Razorbacks will next travel to Auburn for an 11:30 a.m. CT showdown with the Tigers. The game will be regionally televised by Jefferson Pilot.
Noting Arkansas vs. Tennessee
– The loss was the first-ever for Arkansas in overtime. The Hogs now stand at 3-1 in overtime games.
– Matt Jones’ 92-yard touchdown pass to Richard Smith was the longest pass play in Arkansas history (scoring or non-scoring). The previous long was and 87-yard completion from Clint Stoerner to Anthony Lucas vs. SMU in 1998.
– Dedrick Poole’s pass completion to Matt Jones in the third quarter was the first pass attempt of his career. The reception by Jones was his first of the season and third of his career.
– De’Arrius Howard’s 10-yard TD run in the fourth quarter was just the second rushing touchdown allowed by Tennessee this season.