Miracle Comeback Beats Hogs (Stats)

If every Alabama fan who bitched about Nick Saban's decision to kick a field goal with 4:20 to play and the Crimson Tide trailing by seven points would send me one dollar, I could quit this stressful job. Saban went with the percentages and the result was an unlikely 41-38 Crimson Tide victory over 16th ranked Arkansas in Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday night.



Game Stats:

Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson connected with Matt Caddell on a four-yard pass to complete the improbable comeback after Bama had frittered away a three touchdown lead. The winning points came with eight seconds to play.

Alabama had played reasonably well much of the night, but in the second half the Crimson Tide seemed to be running out of gas. The offense had begun to stall and then self-destruct and a defense having to man-up to a magnificent Arkansas running game was running on fumes. Underlying that, Alabama's field goal kicker, Leigh Tiffin, had some history from last year and from the previous quarter.

But Bama Coach Nick Saban went with the percentages. Trailing 38-31 and facing fourth-and-five at the 25, Saban sent the field goal unit on. Tiffin delivered with a 42-yard field goal that cut the Razorbacks' lead to four points with 4:20 to play.

First it was up to the defense. Arkansas made one first down, but then had to punt away. Alabama had the ball at its own 27 with 2:13 to play. Later Saban would say that he thought the field goal was the right thing to do because he had confidence the defense could make the stop and that Wilson could deliver in the two-minute offense.

Wilson did deliver. The junior quarterback, who had some disastrous mistakes during the game, took the Tide on a near-flawless march to victory.

Caddell, a senior with relatively limited success in his Alabama career, got the drive started with back-to-back receptions of 19 and nine yards. After a false start penalty, it was back to Caddell for another nine yards. Wilson then went to Mike McCoy for five yards and after that the Razorbacks were penalized for pass interference, setting the Tide up at the Arkansas 13.

Wilson hit Keith Brown for nine yards to the Arkansas four with the clock clicking under 30 seconds. A try for McCoy was broken up, incomplete. And on third down it was Wilson to Caddell for the winning touchdown. Tiffin kicked it to the final score of 41-38.

After a kickoff out of bounds, the Razorbacks had one chance and went with a trick play, but Alabama's prevent defense wasn't troubled as time ran out.

The Arkansas offense--meaning mostly running stars Darren McFadden and Felix Jones--was as good as advertised. McFadden missed a little of the game late with a slight concussion.

Alabama opened the game with three first quarter touchdowns and a 21-0 lead. Bama still had a 21-10 lead at the half and increased it to 31-10 late in the third quarter. But the Razorbacks had four unanswered touchdowns, the last coming with just over eight minutes to play, and Alabama fate seemed sealed.

It all came together for Alabama as the Crimson Tide took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. First of all, P.J. Fitzgerald made a nice punt that was downed at the Arkansas two-yard line. Two plays later, defensive end Wallace Gilberry deflected a pass that was intercepted by Darren Mustin and returned to the Arkansas 9.

On second down, John Parker Wilson passed to D.J. Hall at the goalline flag, and Hall wrestled the ball away from a couple of Razorbacks for the touchdown. Leigh Tiffin had been injured on the opening kickoff and Andrew Friedman kicked the extra point (having to make the kick twice since Bama suffered a formation penalty).

Alabama made it 14-0 with 4:21 to play as Glen Coffee went untouched up the middle for 14 yards. The score had been set up by Terry Grant's 39-yard run to the Arkansas 15. Friedman kicked the PAT.

It was a three-touchdown lead for the Crimson Tide before the end of the first quarter. Alabama moved 80 yards in one minute. It was a four-play drive, ending with Wilson's second consecutive pass to Hall. The TD went for 35 yards. The drive started with a 14-yard run by Grant. Following an incomplete pass, Wilson hit a wide open Hall for 31 yards to the Razorbacks' 35.

For a moment it looked like it might get ugly early. On the ensuing kickoff, Tyrone King stripped the ball from Arkansas star Darren McFadden and King recovered the ball at the Arkansas 34, but Alabama's offense quickly squandered that opportunity. A 10-yard holding penalty and a 12-yard loss on a sack of Wilson made it third and 32 as the second quarter started. The Tide ended up punting.

Arkansas closed the gap to 21-7 with an unlikely weapon. The Razorbacks Casey Dick had not looked too good at quarterback early, but he connected with Crosby Tuck on a 40-yard touchdown play. The Hogs, relying primarily on McFadden's running, had started the drive at their own 16 yard line and took just six plays to get the touchdown. Alex Tejada kicked the extra point.

Alabama gave Arkansas the opportunity to get back in the game late in the second quarter when Wilson was picked off by Arkansas' XXXXX, setting the Hogs up at the Arkansas 45 with 2:56 before intermission. McFadden ran 23 yards to the Alabama 32 for a first down with 2:40. McFadden picked up another first down to the Alabama 21 with 1:10 to play.

A personal foul face mask gave Arkansas the ball at Bama's 10 with 57 seconds to play. Felix Jones carried to the four on first down and the Hogs took a time out with 39 seconds to play. Fortunately, instead of just running McFadden a couple of times for the touchdown, the Razorbacks first tried McFadden on a halfback pass, then tried a quarterback pass, both broken up.

Arkansas had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Tejada, which cut Bama's halftime lead to 21-10.

An unlikely turnover helped turn momentum back to Alabama, at least partway. After Bama had been unable to move on its first possession of the second half, the Razorbacks seemed to be moving. But Arkansas wide receiver London Crawford--running free in the middle of the field after a reception--dropped the ball and it was recovered by the Tide's Ezekial Knight at the Arkansas 48.

On first down Wilson connected with Hall at the Arkansas 4. One play lost a yard and Wilson threw an incompletion before another run lost a couple. The important part of the drive was that it ended with Leigh Tiffin--who had been victimized by misses in Fayetteville last year--connecting on a 24-yard field goal and a 24-10 Alabama lead.

Alabama's next possession resulted in a dispicable play. Arkansas defensive tackle Earnest Mitchell was ejected after he hit a helmetless Justin Britt in the face with Britt's helmet following a play. Alabama ended up with a first down at the Arkansas 25 after the penalty, but couldn't move. Tiffin's 37-yard field goal attempt missed left.

He got the punt away (just before he got leveled by Chris Gray). Javier Arenas took the punt at the Alabama 40 and went down the right sidelines to the Arkansas two, a 58-yard return.

On first down, Wilson found a wide-open Nick Walker in the end zone. Tiffin's kick made it 31-10 with 5:15 remaining in the third quarter.

Arkansas did not roll over. The Razorbacks marched quickly back downfield, Felix Jones running 36 yards to a first and goal at the Alabama six. Two plays later Dick connected with an unguarded tight end Andrew Davie. It took the Hogs just 2:10 and six plays to get back to within two touchdowns at 31-17 with 3:05 left in the third quarter.

A huge mistake came in the final 2:02 of the third quarter. There was a missed exchange of the center snap and Arkansas recovered at the Alabama 42. The Razorbacks picked up two first downs, the second on a 17-yard Jones run to the Alabama four on the last play of the third quarter. McFadden took it in on the first play of the fourth quarter to pull the Hogs to within a touchdown at 31-24.

The Alabama offense continued to self-destruct as Wilson threw under pressure on the first play after the kickoff. The poorly thrown pass was intercepted by Jerell Norton and returned to the Alabama 26. After a false start penalty, McFadden picked up six. Jones got a yard. On third and eight, Alabama had 12 men on the field, which would have been a disaster, but Bama managed to get a timeout and avoid penalty. When play resumed, McFadden ran for the first down at the Alabama 16.

Another McFadden run put the ball inside the Bama five.

Jones was stopped for a short loss by Wallace Gilberry, but then McFadden took it right up the middle for the touchdown that tied the game at31-31 with 12:05 to play.

Alabama's offense continued to struggle with a three-and-out and Arkansas had a chance to take the lead with 10:30 to play from the Arkansas 36. McFadden got it started with a 45-yard run, followed by a 32-yard gain by Jones and the Razorbacks were at the Alabama 13. Three plays later Dick completed a nice pass to fullback Peyton Hillis for the go-ahead touchdown. With 8:08 to play, the Hogs had a 38-31 lead.

Playing without D.J. Hall, the Alabama offense had its back against the wall. Bama got one first down to the 39, then a 16-yard gain to Will Oakley at the Arkansas 46. A pass to Matt Caddell made it secondand two. A Coffee run gained only a yard, but Coffee got another chance and rushed to a first down at the Arkansas 30.

As has been historic in this series, SEC officiating is often poor, usually to Alabama's detriment. The officials missed badly on an Arkansas hold, and then two passes failed to get a first down.

It came down to fourth down and six yards to go with 4:25 to play from the Arkansas 25. Or so it seemed. Betting that his defense could finally make a stop, Alabama Coach Nick Saban elected to kick a field goal. With 4:20 to play Tiffin's 42-yard field goal was good, cutting the Arkansas lead to 38-34.

After a short kickoff, the Razorbacks picked up one first down. On the next series the Tide burned two timeouts and Arkansas threw a surprising pass, which stopped the clock when it was incomplete. that set up the punt to Arenas and the beginning of the winning Bama drive.

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