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.
Chris Balseiro kicked a 19-yard field goal in the second
overtime and Arkansas (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) came back from a 21-point deficit to beat Alabama 34-31 Saturday.
"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
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,"
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
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
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.