3:30 PM ET, September 27, 2003
Bryant-Denny Stadium, TUSCALOOSA, AL
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- A game of big plays, bigger comebacks and gut-churning mistakes came down to one backup kicker with a pressure-packed chip shot.
"Oh, my goodness," Razorbacks coach Houston Nutt said. "We all saw an awesome game. We had some guys who refused to quit."
The Razorbacks (4-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference), who trailed 31-10 midway through the third quarter, tied the game on Matt Jones' 3-yard touchdown pass to Richard Smith with 27 seconds to play.
Arkansas then nearly blew it in the first overtime, but a dumb penalty by Alabama (2-3, 1-1) and a missed 38-yard field goal by Brian Bostick gave the Razorbacks another chance.
Let Crimson Tide coach Mike Shula sum it up.
"What a game of highs and lows, a game of emotions, a game of brilliance at times for us, a game of lost poise at times," said Shula, whose team is 0-3 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. "We couldn't come up with the play when we needed it."
Jimarr Gallon intercepted a pass from Brodie Croyle to open the second overtime to set up Arkansas' winning score.
The Razorbacks took over at the 25 and ran seven times to the 2 before Balseiro's field goal won it. Balseiro entered the game after David Carlton missed two early field goals.
"It's an amazing feeling," said Balseiro, a sophomore walk-on. "I dream about this every day."
Arkansas started with the ball in overtime and lost yardage right away. On fourth-and-25 from the 40, Charles Jones intercepted Arkansas' desperation pass in the end zone.
The Tide looked to be in perfect position, but several defensive players were called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for a prolonged celebration in the end zone after the interception. That meant the next drive would start at the 40.
"These are the ones that hurt the most," safety Roman Harper said. "We've got the game locked and the defense gave it away with stupid penalties and missed tackles."
On fourth-and-short, Croyle kept the ball for a first down and Alabama moved into position for the win. But Bostick's field goal was wide left, sending the game into a second overtime.
The Tide has lost five of its last six games against ranked teams in Tuscaloosa and couldn't hold onto this one.
Smith's late touchdown capped a methodical 12-play drive, covering 5:27. Nutt had a good feeling on the previous touchdown, Mark Pierce's 2-yard run with 8:31 to play.
"When we scored 24, that's when we said we were going to win," Nutt said.
It wasn't looking good for the Razorbacks before that.
Croyle returned from an injury to his left, non-throwing shoulder to throw touchdown passes of 71 and 12 yards to Dre Fulgham in a 98-second span early in the third quarter. Shaud Williams added an 80-yard scoring run with 7:21 left to make it 31-10 and put the run-oriented Razorbacks in deep trouble.
"We shot ourselves in the foot," Tide cornerback Anthony Madison said. "We had a chance of stopping them and putting the dagger in them, and we didn't."
Arkansas overcame three second-half turnovers with the running of Cedric Cobbs, who gained 198 yards on 36 carries and got virtually all his yards between the tackles.
The Razorbacks rushed for 289 yards against a Tide defense that also was bullied a week earlier by Northern Illinois tailback Michael Turner.
Cobbs capped a 12-play, 87-yard march with a 5-yard touchdown run to make it 31-17. Pierce's 2-yard run with 8:31 left cut the deficit to a touchdown.
Alabama's defense came up big several times, but the Tide couldn't capitalize.
Antwan Odom forced a rare Cobbs fumble -- the first by an Arkansas running back in 18 games, spanning 609 carries -- on the first play of the fourth quarter. Charlie Peprah also intercepted a pass for the Tide.
"I thought after I fumbled that I would never forgive myself if we lost this game," Cobbs said.
The start of the game was delayed 63 minutes because of storms in the area, but the rain stopped just before the game began.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||8-17||4-13|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||1-1|
|TD||12:08||MATT JONES 39 YD RUN (DAVID CARLTON KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 68 yards.
|TD||2:57||TRIANDOS LUKE 16 YD PASS FROM BRODIE CROYLE (BRIAN BOSTICK KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||1:52||CHRIS BALSEIRO 38 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 64 yards.
|FG||0:00||BRIAN BOSTICK 48 YD FG|
Drive info: 12 plays, 49 yards.
|TD||13:28||DRE FULGHAM 71 YD PASS FROM BRODIE CROYLE (BRIAN BOSTICK KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||11:50||DRE FULGHAM 12 YD PASS FROM BRODIE CROYLE (BRIAN BOSTICK KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 23 yards.
|TD||7:21||SHAUD WILLIAMS 80 YD RUN (BRIAN BOSTICK KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 83 yards.
|TD||2:03||CEDRIC COBBS 5 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 87 yards.
|TD||8:31||MARK PIERCE 2 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 31 yards.
|TD||0:27||RICHARD SMITH 3 YD PASS FROM MATT JONES (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 71 yards.
|FG||0:00||CHRIS BALSEIRO 19 YD FG|
Drive info: 7 plays, 23 yards.